Dead duck

4 11 2013

Brace yourselves – the duck is dead!

The giant rubber duck that has been enthralling much of the Chinese speaking world (and this blog) exploded this week (EXPLODED!!) during its stop in Taiwan.

Following an earthquake, the duck’s air supply was cut off and “rescue workers” overzealously re-pumped the 18 metre high inflatable artwork too quickly, leading to a rupture.

The duck’s deflation, following its tabloid-baiting “death” in Hong Kong earlier this year, caused an internet sensation with this photoshopped picture of the mascot in a traditional funeral home doing the rounds under the caption “First victim of the earthquake”.

Hong Kong’s “forcefield” defies typhoon

23 09 2013

A friend posted on Facebook today a link to this wikipedia article on the Li forcefield. The ‘forcefield’ is a Hong Konger in-joke, a reference to a “forcefield” controlled by the city’s billionaire business moguls and lead its wealthiest man Li Ka-Shing, which prevents typhoons landing in the city during the weekday, thereby depriving the hard-working wageslaves of a day off.

The joke comes in the wake of what has seemed to some to be a disproportionate number of typhoons arriving on the weekends.

This picture, of 2010 Tropical Storm Lion Rock seemingly making a detour around Hong Kong, is held up as jokey evidence.

Faye Wong’s sad news

17 09 2013

The iconic singer has set China’s tabloids alight with the news this week of her divorce. It is actually striking how many of Faye’s songs have divorce-friendly (for lack of a better term) titles: “Wishing We Would last Forever”, “I Don’t Want It Like This Either”, “Separate Ways”. But I am going to go with perhaps my favourite Faye Wong song, the lush, gloomy and fabulously titled “The Cambrian Period”. No idea what the lyrics are about – but the end of a love affair might be a good guess.

Caio Castro’s big mistake

15 06 2013

Caio Castro is a Brazilian soapie star, and former Nickelodeon teen idol, with a toothpaste-commercial smile, luxurious curly hair, smouldering good looks and pecs that just won’t quit. Sadly, he is also a noted homophobe, having made anti-gay comments in an interview a few years ago. This week though he got his karmic come-uppance, as he was splashed nude all over the Brazilian tabloid press. When you are a famous TV star, don’t send girls pics like this….NSFW after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Dead: who deflated Hong Kong’s dream duck?

16 05 2013

Earlier this week I was enthusing about Hong Kong’s latest attraction, the giant rubber duck that had floated in Hong Kong’s harbour, and heart, on a worldwide mission to promote peace, togetherness and knowing kitsch. The duck was a beacon, an irresistable symbol of playful optimisim in a city in dire need of it and the the Hong Kong public went crazy for it.

But yesterday the dream came crashing down. Under fittingly dark and gloomy skies, a tragic discovery was made: the once-proud duck was found listing severely, deflated. Soon it was a pancake-flat glob of yellow floating in the grey harbour, looking pretty dead.

As if this “tragedy” wasn’t enough to capture Hong Kong’s imagination, a new twist on the story emerged today. Rumours were spreading through the city swiftly that the duck had been murdered! Hong Kongers were quick to lay the blame at the much-despised mainland tourists, with rumours (seemingly unfounded) of a “tourist from Shenyang” who “flicked thirty lit cigarettes” at the duck, while swearing and cursing.

This shadowy hate figure was a perfect call to arms for the anti-China brigade, ever ready to pounce in this city, wher resentment is high against the growing influence of China’s super-rich, driving up prices even as they deny Hong Kongers political freedoms. In the wake of anger over the duck death, the Chinese state media was forced to hit back, claiming the story was unfounded.

Its an interesting example of human nature that something so trivial (a rubber duck) could bring out such base, and potentially scary scapegoating.

Meanwhile the media has been having a field day with headlines like “Fowl play?” “Giant duck burnt alive by mainlanders” and “Sitting duck”.

Rat meat sold as ‘lamb’ in Shanghai

5 05 2013

If you have ordered lamb or mutton for hotpot in Shanghai over the last four years, you might have been served rat, fox or mink, the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

For more, read the full article at the South China Morning Post here.

Meanwhile in Sydney…

4 03 2013

This weekend saw Sydney host its annual gay Mardi Gras party. It rained on the night, no doubt raising a bittersweet smile from the Christian fundamentalist protesters who protested the event and prayed for rain every Mardi Gras since the 1980s, before giving up (I believe) a few years ago. The Mardi Gras has now become so ingrained (and unthreatening) that its biggest controversy this year was the lavish funding provided for it by the Sydney city council. Local authorities painted a rainbow-coloured traffic crossing across Oxford Street on the Mardi Gras parade route – at the eye watering cost of one hundred thousand Australian dollars. Even more astonishingly, it was originally intended to be a temporary Mardi Gras artwork, but many are now asking why it could not be kept permanently, especially given the hefty (some would say, excessive) cost of creating it.


Looks like I typed too soon. There has in fact been a huge controversy at this year’s Mardi Gras over a case of apparent police brutality against an 18 year-old reveller, captured on tape by outraged bystanders. The case has hit the headlines in Australia and other countries and even garnered an angry Facebook post this morning by Eliad Cohen. Many say the amount of force used was unjustified and police had promised a prompt investigation. Apparently though there is another piece of footage showing the ‘victim’ lashing out and punching police before he was ‘subdued’ and pushed to the ground, his head hitting the concrete with a thud, as seen in the footage below:

RIP Arpad Miklos

12 02 2013

RIP to Hungarian porn star Arpad Miklos who committed suicide last week. The words to this song by indie rock singer Perfumed Genius seem oddly prescient.

Death of the death hotel

27 12 2012

One of Chiang Mai’s most notorious institutions has been demolished – the “death hotel” at the centre of a 2011 controversy. Four guests at the Downtown Inn died mysteriously within a two week period. It was widely suspected at the time that they had been poisoned by a chemical to kill bedbugs, which had been used to treat the hotel’s sheets – but the relevant tests were never conducted and no arrests were made. Dubbed the “death hotel” in the press, the building has now itself been destroyed – karma some would say – and will be rebuilt…as another hotel.

Interesting choice of music for the video.

Sixty two million dollar woman

28 09 2012

One of Hong Kong’s richest men has offered a 62 million HKD fortune to any man who can tempt his lesbian daughter into marriage. Poor girl.

Read more about it here.

J-pop: something old, something new and something scandalous

15 09 2012


Above, the cover of Kyarypamupamu’s new album with her out-there-as-always new look.

Below, an unexpected comeback. Nineties J-Pop superstar Hitomi has returned with a strangely addictive new video, even if the song accompanying it is barely there.

And meanwhile, a scandal is brewing for one of Japan’s newest celebs. Seungri, of Korean band Big Bang has recently morphed into a Japanese talk show host – how he hast the time for this (or the Japanese language chops) I am not quite sure, but its an impressive accomplishment.

This week though photos of a sleeping Seungri hit the Tokyo tabloids with a lurid story sold by a former conquest who alleges he likes to choke his partner during sex and (wait for it) did not help to clean her up afterwards. The scandal!

Now you know…

22 08 2012

…why they call Kowloon “the dark side”.
It is a ‘kuman thong’ or human foetus charm, on sale openly on the streets of Kowloon, (in a Thai import shop in Yau Ma Tei.) For more on the gruesome kuman thong trade, read previous articles here.

Hold the front page

23 06 2012

Chinese speakers – care to explain this headline? I assume it is a story about some kind of gruesome torture/ abduction but I was intrigued because I have never seen illustrations on the front page of a newspaper before.

Crime and punishment

2 06 2012

This week in Bangkok, police collared five Vietnamese nationals who had been pickpocketing the crowd at the Lady Gaga concert in the Thai capital. The gang, several members of whom were arrested at the airport fleeing the country, have apparently been jetting into Thailand specifically to steal at large events, before heading back to Ho Chi Minh.

Also in Bangkok, police have revealed that they were tipped off to the recent foetus smuggler by reports of  babies’ cries emanating from his hotel room. The question now being asked by many Thais, were they the ghostly wails of the infant souls, or the cries of living babies…and just where did he get those foetuses and babies’ bodies (some were up to 7 months old) anyway?

A thief in Brasilia walked out of a sex shop robbery with a five thousand Euro gold-plated vibrator…but forget to get a recharger.

And of course, in Miami a naked man high on drugs was arresting for trying to “eat another man’s face”. It has been all over the mainstream news.

24 05 2012

Horrifying, but oddly compelling and -dare I say? even beautiful – new photograph of the gold-plated baby foetus charms discovered in a Bangkok suitcase this week.

How did I miss this? Tiger meat on sale in Thailand

24 05 2012

Four hundred kilograms of tiger meat have been found in an illegal exotic animal abbatoir. Slabs of freshly cut zebra and “elephant sashimi” were also recovered from the slaughterhouse in the Northeastern suburb of Khlong Sam Wa. Ewww. The clandestine bush meat butcher was only sprung when police followed home a man from a local 7-11. Their suspicions were raised because – get this – his hands were dripping with blood.

Only in Bangkok.

Several private zoos are under investigation, suspected of selling tigers to slaughter illegally to make money on the side. So far none have been charged.

Man arrested smuggling gold-plated baby foetuses out of Thailand

19 05 2012

Barely a week after the discovery of a bag full of humans skulls by a Bangkok canal – stolen for use in black magic -comes another macabre bust. A man has been arrested with six gold-plated human foetuses. The man had purchased the roasted dead baby foetuses, known in Thai as “khumarn tong” and believed to possess incredibly strong powers to control peoples’ minds. They were plated in gold – whether to disguise them or as part of the ritual is unclear. The man told police he had paid US $6500 for the dead babies and was planning on taking them to Taiwan to sell on the internet.

It is not clear at this stage where the bodies originally came from.

Such cases are not unusual in Thailand, where dead foetuses are widely considered to be powerful talismans.

‘Korea cracks down on flesh capsules’

9 05 2012

In case slathering snail entrails over your face wasn’t disgusting enough, the Koreans have found a new – and macabre – secret to staying young:


SEOUL, May 8 – South Korea has intensified a crackdown on the smuggling of capsules from China containing the powdered flesh of dead babies, taken by some as a cure for disease or a way to boost sexual performance, a customs official said on Tuesday.

Read the full article here.

Bangkok: Headshot, part one.

4 05 2012


Five partially crushed and drilled human skulls were found dumped in a bag by a canal in Rangsit, in Bangkok’s Northern suburbs, this week. The skulls had been stolen from a temple morgue and were being used for the production of “skull powder”  used in amulets in the black magic trade.

All at sea

16 04 2012

There was a macabre story in the newspaper this week. Ocean swimmers at Hung Hom, just across the harbour in Kowloon by one of the city’s main train stations, came across a floating suitcase. Curious about the long strands of hair spilling out, they opened it up to find a woman’s dead body.

My first reaction to this: people swim in the sea at Hung Hom?

The mystery of the poodles’ diamonds: OR diamonds are forever but a dog is just for Christmas

22 03 2012

I saw an intriguing news item recently, all the more shocking because I was at its unlikely setting just two years ago: the Paris cats and dogs cemetery. I even took a photograph of the VERY GRAVE that concealed, little did I know, a now-stolen fortune (see my photo above)! Its like a particularly camp Tintin comic. If only I had thought to dig…

From the BBC:

Tipsy was buried in a marble tomb in the world’s oldest pet cemetery in a Paris suburb in 2003.

For years there were rumours the dog’s wealthy owners had buried treasure with it, but this had never been confirmed.

But police told AFP news agency that when the grave was desecrated earlier this month the collar, worth 9,000 euros (£7,500: $12,000), was stolen.

They said the grave in the cemetery in Asnieres-sur-Seine was vandalised on the night of 4 February, the tombstone pulled down and Tipsy’s skeleton left strewn over the ground.

The site is now surrounded by yellow police tape and the cemetery closed for repair work while police investigate.

The mayor of Asnieres, Sebastien Pietrasanta, said he was astonished the jewels had been buried with Tipsy, AFP reports. But he stressed: “Treasure is not hidden in the tombs of all the dogs and cats.”

I love that last, pre-emptive statement to head off a rush of diamond-seeking dog-grave robbers!

For more on my trip to the cemetery read here, “Where the Dead Things Are”.


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