Wong Ka Kui, Beyond, and Chinese Rock and Roll

Wong Ka KuiThis month marks the anniversary of the birth–and death–of Wong Ka Kui, the greatest musician that ever lived.  Sadly, outside of the Chinese community, only a small handful of people are familiar with him and the musical legacy he left behind.  Here’s an introduction to the greatest musical genius and rock and roll pioneer you’ve never heard of.

In 1983, Wong Ka Kui formed a Cantonese rock band named Beyond where he was the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist.  In a period where manufactured music dominated Hong Kong’s music scene, Wong Ka Kui stood out by composing and writing over ninety percent of Beyond’s songs, which were not only above love and hope, but about loss and sadness, overcoming obstacles, searching for peace, and most importantly, pursuing one’s dreams despite hardships.  He used his music as a vehicle to inspire change, pushing social issues to the forefront and raising awareness of the problems plaguing society.  Wong Ka Kui single-handedly revolutionized the music scene, putting Chinese rock and roll on the map. He was quoted as saying, “I wanted to hear a certain type of music, but it was absent in Hong Kong, so I decided to compose and sing these songs myself.”

Asian music never had the chance to thrive internationally, but I’m positive that if he was still making music today, he’d achieve international success–even breaking into the English-speaking market–and put Asian music on a world stage.  But no, Wong Ka Kui’s untimely death occurred at the height of his career after falling off a stage while filming a game show in Japan in 1993.  Yes, he made his lasting mark in music all within ten years! Unfortunately, this tragic loss stopped Chinese rock & roll’s momentum dead in its tracks.

There’s no mistaking the influence that Wong Ka Kui and Beyond had on music.  Ka Kui’s distinct and powerful voice captivated those who were lucky enough to listen to him.  He was a true musician and artist–he could sing, write, AND play a musical instrument.   Considering how people desperately seek music as a way to find consolation or to relate to the world, the loss of Ka Kui was the worst blow to music–and, specifically, to Hong Kong’s music industry–for which we will never recover from.  Wong Ka Kui was a legend ahead of his time.  It is no wonder his music speaks to fans today just as they did over 30 years ago. Not a week goes by where I don’t listen to his music.  His soulful voice continues to touch me; his songs resonating long after listening to them.

I hope this blog introduces Wong Ka Kui to all of those who are unfamiliar.  It is my wish that his music lives on.  I urge you to do more research on him, as his story is a great one about perseverance and hard work.  Please share his music with others so that his songs continue to be heard, inspiring change for the better.

On a side note, I found some interesting similarities between Wong Ka Kui and Bon Jovi. They were both born in 1962 and both started their rock bands in 1983.  Their songs also share similar musical qualities, so perhaps if you’re into Bon Jovi–or David Bowie and Pink Floyd, two of Wong Ka Kui’s biggest influences–you’ll also listen to Wong Ka Kui’s music as well.

Below are some of Beyond’s greatest hits.  I sincerely hope you enjoy them.  I’m always open to discuss them or help with translations if needed.  For those new to Wong Ka Kui’s music, what are your first impressions?  Do his songs resonate with you?

Beyond’s  signature song, “Glorious Years,” about racism and oppression, inspired by Nelson Mandela’s struggles as the first black president of South Africa.

Another signature song, “Under a Vast Sky,” about chasing after one’s dreams.

Here’s a song, “Amani,” about striving for peace, inspired during a visit to the war-torn nation of Tanzania.

Beyond also has Mandarin and Japanese versions of a few of their greatest hits, so I hope you search for and listen to those as well.

Here’s to the legendary Wong Ka Kui, Beyond, and Chinese rock and roll!

Newfound Friendship with a Girl

Daisy FlowerLast month my friend and I went dancing at a club in San Diego.  Through him, I was able to meet a girl named Mary.  I was surprised when she seemed into me from the start.  “Wow, you’re so tall!” she said, gazing into my eyes with a wide smile.  Her energy captivated me.  We chit-chatted a bit, and I got her email while my friend got her number.  I emailed her a few days later, and we decided to meet for boba milk tea.  We would end up talking for four hours!

“You have this incredible energy about you,” I said.  “I love how free-spirited you are.  You’re the type of girl I’ve always wanted to meet.”

“Why, thank you.  I’m just being me.  I think you’re very special yourself, and not like the other guys I meet.  I was trying to get your attention all night, but you never asked me to dance.  Your arms were crossed, and I just thought you were conceited.”

“I had no idea you were even looking at me,” I said, laughing.  “I was also probably just being timid.  You know, it’s so interesting how we assume things about other people all the time, and most of those assumptions are probably way off.”

“I agree.  It’s really sad, but I guess we’re only human.”

Over the course of the night, Mary kept gazing at me with her piercing blue eyes.  I’d blush, get shy, and then look away briefly.  The more we chatted, the more we realized all the things we had in common, one being our love of walking places.  Eventually, we even discussed plans of doing a walking trip together on the beach.  We’d start in La Jolla or Del Mar and travel-walk without a set destination, a visceral adventure I’d always wanted to experience with a girl.

When the night was winding down, Mary clasped my hands and we mimicked the way we’d hold each other’s hands on the dance floor.  “Your hands are so soft,” she said as her fingers rested in my palms.  “I feel it.  We definitely have a connection.”

“I’m just really grateful a girl like you actually appreciates a guy like me.”

The entire time I was in awe of this girl, how she showered me with so much attention.  We had the type of communication I’d always wanted with a girl.  I couldn’t stop thinking how we had only just met.  Mary seemed drawn to my shy and sweet side, and that highly reassured me.

At the end of the night, I walked her to my car.  “I think we’ll be really good friends,” she said.  She opened her arms, and we embraced.

My body loosened.  Relief washed over me.  I’d always longed for friendship with a girl like her.  At once,  I held romance, beauty, and friendship in my hands.  Pain lifted.  Mary, Mary, I thought.  There’s definitely something about Mary.

Online Dating in San Diego

DSC01577I just finished reading the front-page article of the weekly San Diego Reader, and I felt compelled to write down my thoughts.  On the cover is the drawing of a nervous-looking, attractive blonde with bright blue eyes and juicy red lips with fingers raised to her mouth in shock.  The caption reads “B-but he seemed so…SINGLE!”  Welcome to the world of online dating.

This final front-page article of 2012 is fitting, as many out there–myself included–have had their fair share of struggles with dating.  I will add that in the last three weeks, I have noticed that several of my friends have managed to find a significant other.  I’m sure the holidays–or being able to find someone to share the end of the world with–has a big part to do with these last-minute connections.  After all, who wants to spend this beautiful time of the year alone when everyone else is happily paired?

Oh, the trials and tribulations of navigating the dating world!  The article touches on a lot of important ideas and focuses on how prevalent online dating has become due to sites like Match.com.

The author pretty much verifies what I had thought all along: most people who do online dating are more interested in quick hook-ups than in establishing actual relationships, and that many people lie–they are someone completely different in real life than who they claim to be online.  For guys, in real life they are six inches shorter, fifty pounds heavier, and make less than a quarter of what their online profiles would suggest.  For girls, in real life they are five to twenty years older, one to six inches wider, and don’t have the bikini-ready frame of their online profiles.  For both guys and girls, EVERYONE in San Diego is honest, easy-going, fun, outdoorsy, and loves to surf!

Don’t you just hate liars?  I sure do.  The same goes for players.  Dishonesty is the worst way to begin a relationship.  As for players and people who hop in and out of relationships, it sickens me to think of someone shuffling from one person to the next without much regard.

How do I feel about dating in San Diego in general?  Like the article states, it sucks to be a man in “Man Diego.”  The girls/women here know they’re attractive and most only seem to look for a certain type.  I’m positive they need open themselves to new and different types of people.  Having grown up in San Diego, though things are much better now, I feel many of the females here solely seek out those light-eyed, clean-cut surfer dudes to the exclusion of all others.  And though there are a ton of surfers in San Diego, many still complain there aren’t enough good and available men around.  So, the problem is a lack of quality versus a lack of quantity.  Good and available men are hard to find, but that’s because we exist in your peripheral vision.  Open your eyes and your heart and perhaps that wonderful guy you didn’t see before will open your world.

I admit that when a woman only dates a certain type of guy, I cringe.  Given that a woman often tries to “change her man,” I suspect that many often end up in a vicious cycle of dating the same type of guy over and over again until she gets what she wants, always claiming “this one’s different” while playing the nurturing role of caretaker by secretly trying to change him.  In reality, what needs to change is the type of guy she dates.  The secret to breaking the cycle is to go out and date an Asian guy.  He’ll rock your world and make it whole, and have you start believing again.:)

But, back to the topic of online dating in San Diego.  I say, why not?  Through Facebook and the Internet, you can get to know many people you would not otherwise have had the chance to talk to.  It’s easier to find common ground that you think.  Why limit yourself only to those you brush shoulders with when there’s a much bigger segment of the population you’re completely missing out on?  When getting to know someone online, not only can you see someone’s pictures and judge physical attraction, but you can immediately read his/her stats and find out his/her hobbies to see what you have in common.

With online dating everything happens at a fast-forward pace–you find a lot of general facts about someone in a short amount of time–but you miss the little details, which reveal more about someone than a list of superficial information.  But, I guess that’s better than in real life where people often just don’t take the time to get to know each other at all.  At times, I feel like you literally have to crash into someone just to get his/her attention!

A final, but very important, piece of advice I have is to take time getting to know someone whether online or in real life.  Find out if you’re compatible before moving forward too far too fast.  Similarly, stop judging people before you get to know them.  You’ll be surprised at how skewed your judgments are.  Allow yourself to get through the initial barrier of “He’s not my type,” “He won’t like me,” or “We don’t have anything in common,” and learn to see someone for who he/she is and not as who you hope or expect him/her to be.  Basically, accept people for who they are while remembering to broaden your “type.”  Oh, and though dating in real life and online can seem like a numbers game, no treating it like a buffet!

Have any of you tried or thought about online dating?  If not, what’s stopping you?  Or, have you ever met or came across someone online with whom you felt a connection?

Online dating isn’t for everyone, but it’s an option worth considering if only to meet new people.  And please, don’t forget about the Asian guy.  Who knows?  Your significant other might just be a mouse click away.

2012 Olympics Eye Candy: Who’s Your Crush?

The 2012 London Olympics has arrived.  Yes, it’s been 4 years since the Beijing Olympics!  I know, it seems like 2 years at most.  I hope the Olympics will inspire people to play a more active role in their lives and to get healthy.  The image of the sizzling bodies of the participants should motivate you to stay fit:)

For as long as I could remember, in every Olympics, I always had at least one major crush from among all that eye candy.  The majority of my past crushes had come from the women’s gymnastics team.  Something about girls in leotard gracefully orienting themselves on the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor, is appealing.  From the moment they first reveal their wide-eyed smiles for the audience to when they strike their final pose, I’m in awe.  Their cute game faces coupled with their composure in such a high level of competition, adds to their attractiveness.

In the 2008 Olympics, my crush was Nastia Liukin.

Her golden hair and bright eyes complimented her slender body nicely.  She definitely had swagger and even a bit of attitude, but was such a joy to watch.  I could not tear my eyes off her!

For the 2012 Olympics, my crush thus far is Alexandra Reisman.

I had spotted her during the prelims; she seemed sweet and had great form:)

Do you have an Olympics crush?  Who is it and what attracts you to him/her?

As a side note, I’m completely straight, but if I were to go the other way I’d definitely have my eyes on the men gymnasts–and the fluid divers–from China.  Gorgeous skin, silky and toned bodies, ever-so graceful movements.  What more could a girl ask for, right?:)

2012: Moving Abroad to Hong Kong to Teach English

Deutsch: Skyline von Hong Kong betrachtet vom ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been doing lots of soul-searching trying to figure out myself and what I want in life.  Looking back at the last several years, I’ve seemingly accomplished a lot–work and academic-wise–yet I feel a sense of emptiness.  My full-time job in finance keeps me busy, but is not the rewarding type of career I seek.

The last several years have really been a time of self-discovery.  Besides enrolling in a Chinese-language school to further my Chinese studies and hold on to my Chinese identity, I’ve utilized the various junior colleges in San Diego to dabble in acting, music, dance, various sports, film-making, creative writing, and teaching–all to find myself.  At the heart of these endeavors lies a key concept: I enjoy learning.  To be able to share my knowledge with others and positively influence them, would truly be special indeed.

In the fall of 2010 the idea of teaching as a career came to me as an educator-friend planted the idea in my head.  Since then, I’ve been accumulating experience in the teaching profession, preparing me for a career switch into education.  Now, I am seriously considering it as a possible long-term career, one that is rewarding, meaningful, and provides a sense of accomplishment I can feel proud of.

This is where Hong Kong comes into play.  I was born in Hong Kong but raised in San Diego, California.  I’ve always wanted to live in Hong Kong for an extended period of time–as opposed to visiting for 1-2 weeks–to really get to know the region.  I put Hong Kong and teaching together and came up with the perfect solution to my dilemma.  Here’s a list of three reasons why I’m planning to move abroad to Hong Kong to teach English in 2012:

  1. To get teaching experience.  I plan on obtaining a position teaching English to experience first-hand whether teaching is a viable long-term career option.  I will be classified as an English teacher, receiving immediate feedback on the intrinsic rewards of teaching and whether it’s the right fit.
  2. To re-connect with my roots.  Hong Kong will always hold a special place in my heart as it is my birthplace.  Having been raised in San Diego, I feel a sense of disconnect with Hong Kong and with Chinese culture in general.  I’d like to fully immerse myself in the Hong Kong lifestyle to better know my culture and become even more fluent in Cantonese as well as Mandarin.
  3. To find my significant other.  I only just added this third reason, but living in Hong Kong presents a very unique opportunity.

There’s also the food, music, hiking trails, and proximity to China, all opening a vast range of possibilities.

Ideally, I’d like to teach in Hong Kong for 2 years, teach in China for another year, and then come back to San Diego to get my teaching credential to teach Kindergarten.  I wouldn’t mind staying abroad for even longer though, depending on how things go.

In the meantime, some things are still up in the air about leaving San Diego and moving to Hong Kong, but will sort themselves out in the coming months.

Have you ever moved or considered moving abroad to pursue a career–or even a significant other?  What was the experience like?  Do you have any suggestions, advice, or words of wisdom to share?

Horseback Riding on the Beach in San Diego

Ever since I saw the movie Titanic where Jack says to Rose he’ll one day take her to ride horses on the beach, the image of a guy and a girl galloping off into the sunset has been imprinted into my mind.  I loved the idea of a couple doing something few have thought to do.  Two people.  One shared experience.  Love and romance captured.

Over the years I wondered if it was possible to ride horses on the beach here in San Diego.  Being a city with plenty of spectacular beaches and tourists, you’d imagine it readily available to engage in this activity.  You can ride “ponies” in Rosarito, Mexico and horses at Shelter Island, but a pony is not exactly a horse and Shelter Island is a bay.  I’m talking a stretch of coast, crashing waves, open ocean.

Then I heard about a place in Imperial Beach where you can ride actual horses on the beach.  I had to see it for myself. After some research, I arrived at Border Field State Park, parked my car, and took out my mini bike and road it on the paved road for 1-2 miles to get to the beach.

It was just me (plus a border agent) and miles of empty beach, not even a single palm tree.  I walked along the shore and plopped myself on the sand, sitting on the plastic bag that came with my 5-rolled tacos for an impromptu picnic. South of me was a large flock of seagulls.  I waited.

The tide began to recede.  And then the first trio of them arrived.

How awesome the riders and horses must have felt having an entire beach for themselves.  I smiled at them as they passed, all the while munching away on my tacos.

The moment held me in a daze.  One of those times I wished I had a girl to enjoy the experience with.  It wasn’t just about being at the beach or seeing horses, but the adventure of getting here, the process of discovery.  Strolling along a private beach with a girl, I thought.  We’d be free to do whatever we wanted to. No towels, no showers, no problem.  We’d dip our toes in the water, relax on the plastic take-out bag from Roberto’s, look out into the Coronado Islands, and we’d be happy.

Later, as I walked along the beach, I took a candid photo of a couple.

I thought they were part of the group tour, but it turns out they came separately, and it was their first time here.

The guy handed me his camera and I took some photos of him and his girlfriend. I thought of how Jack said to Rose: “We’ll ride horses on the beach, right in the surf.”  This image that had been in my mind for so long had come true, vicariously.  Fifteen minutes later as I was leaving, I caught a final shot of the lovebirds heading off into the horizon.

Check out http://www.happytrails-usa.com/beach.htm if you’re interested in renting horses to ride on the beach in San Diego.

Mr. Chan as The Teacher?

I’ve been taking a bunch of classes all over town, wondering what to do for the rest of my life.  I love how community colleges give curious people like me a chance to explore various subjects.  This blog results from a class taken at Grossmont Colllege.  I initially began my journey here wishing to become an actor, then a writer and/or director, and now a teacher.  It’s crazy how life turns out sometimes.  Prior to September 2010, I hadn’t even considered becoming a teacher–at all.

Anyhow, this semester I enrolled in an Education 200, Teaching as a Profession, class geared towards prospective K-8th grade teachers.  I’ve always adored cute kids and the innocence associated with youth, so I figured a class like this would allow me to experience what working with children would be like.

I spent a total of 50 hours as a volunteer inside kindergarten, 2nd, 5th, and 7th grade, classrooms.  Originally, my idea was to teach 7th graders, but I must admit, the kindergarten kids won my heart.  I spent a third of my time inside a kindergarten class, and the kids were so cute and adorable–absolute innocence. My heart was tender in their presence.  All I was thinking was “awww”.  Some of the kids caught my attention more than others because of their cuteness factor: one was really chubby and clumsy, another had a adorable face with big cheeks, and another was really sweet and fun to be around.

At lunchtime, I got in line with the other kids for lunch.  I had forgotten how the whole process works, but a nice kid happily helped me out.  Memories came back: the carton of milk, the star nuggets, the stern cashier–yup, even she was still there.  Outside, I sat on a lone table, merrily eating and observing the others.

Now for a quick story that tickles my heart.  One day during lunchtime, I was late in getting out and had to eat in a rush.  I didn’t have time for my banana so I decided to save it for a snack later.  The lunch bell rang and I sped back to the classroom, passing groups of kindergartners and first graders along the way, to drop off the banana and use the restroom.  When I walked out, there were a bunch of kids scattered in the classroom, eyeing the banana on top of my bookbag.  I walked back outside and, apparently, a girl had lost her banana and thought she had misplaced it inside the room, on top of my bookbag!  The incident was major DRAMA!  I’d never seen a kid so enthusiastic about fruit.  I put two and two together and reasoned that the little kids had seen a young adult–me–with a banana and suddenly thought it was cool and acceptable to eat fruit.

I quickly went back, grabbed the banana and ran back outside to give it to the girl, who was with six of her friends.  They all looked at me in awe, and I felt like such a hero.  Kids say and do the cutest things!

Anyways, I want to thank the students and staff at Jamacha Elementary School and Oak Valley Middle School for all the memories.  When all was said and done, I came away from this experience realizing that becoming an educator is definitely in my future.  More to come in the next few weeks.

Oh and the drawings are a present I received on the last day from a few of the girls.  Hearts and sunshine, what more could a guy ask for.