culture

Canadian National Barista Championship in Globe and Mail by Jessica Lee

Jill Hoff from Calgary presents the coffee she made at the National Barista Championship in Toronto.

Jill Hoff from Calgary presents the coffee she made at the National Barista Championship in Toronto.

Last week, I got to photograph the best baristas in the country at the Canadian National Barista Championships for The Globe and Mail. It was a dream assignment for me because I love coffee culture and also geeking out to delicious coffee. It was also interesting to chat with people who love coffee so much that they devoted a significant amount of their lives to perfecting the skill of making coffee. What drives them? Why are they spending so many hours preparing for a competition?

Here are a few photos from the event, but also check out the interactive feature the Globe put out here.

TORONTO - (March 17, 2019) The twenty-two best baristas in Canada gathered at The Artist Factory to battle it out for the title of best barista at the 2019 Canadian Barista Championships. The event was held to select a Canadian representative to compete in the World Barista Championships in Boston next month.

To earn their spot to compete with the best of the best in Canada, the baristas spend months taste-testing and selecting the coffee bean they will use, rehearsing their routine and practicing to make the perfect cup of coffee. At the competition, each competitor has fifteen minutes to present to four judges their coffee creations. The baristas are judged by the taste and presentation of the cup they brew (latte art), their preparing technique, how accurately they describe the flavour profiles in the coffee they present, their efficiency and cleanliness of their coffee station and also the creativity of a signature drink they create. The event is a fun celebration bringing together fans of the steadily-growing third-wave craft coffee culture in Canada, which uses high-quality Arabica beans, usually sourced directly from a farm in a coffee-growing region, with many cafés roasting their own beans in-house.

Cole Torode, 27, from Calgary, presents his coffee creations to the judges at the 2019 National Barista Championship in Toronto. He was the 2018 and 2019 winner and will go on to represent Canada in the World Barista Championship in Boston later this year.

Cole Torode, 27, from Calgary, presents his coffee creations to the judges at the 2019 National Barista Championship in Toronto. He was the 2018 and 2019 winner and will go on to represent Canada in the World Barista Championship in Boston later this year.

A judge marks down flavour notes of the coffee he is tasting at the 2019 National Barista Championships in Toronto.

A judge marks down flavour notes of the coffee he is tasting at the 2019 National Barista Championships in Toronto.

Nelson Phu, 29, from Calgary, grinds coffee beans while judges look on.

Nelson Phu, 29, from Calgary, grinds coffee beans while judges look on.

Derek Hamers, 37, Toronto Independent  “I’m originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, so there’s not really a specialty coffee scene there, at the time. I think it’s now starting to happen but before there was nothing really for me so I moved to Toronto. It broke my mother’s heart. I had to tell her, it was like ‘Mom, I’m moving to Toronto to become a barista, she’s like ‘Oh my god, Dewey’ [laughs]. But it was the right decision and I met an amazing community here and we’re all good friends and I’ve worked at many places here since and it’s been an awesome journey.”

Derek Hamers, 37, Toronto Independent

“I’m originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, so there’s not really a specialty coffee scene there, at the time. I think it’s now starting to happen but before there was nothing really for me so I moved to Toronto. It broke my mother’s heart. I had to tell her, it was like ‘Mom, I’m moving to Toronto to become a barista, she’s like ‘Oh my god, Dewey’ [laughs]. But it was the right decision and I met an amazing community here and we’re all good friends and I’ve worked at many places here since and it’s been an awesome journey.”

Jann Meneses, 23, Toronto, Independent  “I’m really looking into finding myself a mentor. It takes some time to find the right one for me and I really need someone to look up to who’s going to guide me through my path and so it will just take some time. I want to meet someone that is very knowledgeable about the craft, knows the craft as much as I do and will teach me his ways.”

Jann Meneses, 23, Toronto, Independent

“I’m really looking into finding myself a mentor. It takes some time to find the right one for me and I really need someone to look up to who’s going to guide me through my path and so it will just take some time. I want to meet someone that is very knowledgeable about the craft, knows the craft as much as I do and will teach me his ways.”

Meaghan Biddle, 31, London, ON Locomotive Espresso  “I have a degree in anthropology and a degree in classical civilizations and also in fashion design. I started working in coffee at a Starbucks about ten years ago, I worked there and worked my way up the company in a couple of years, but then I moved into just coffee so I started working at a small café in Toronto.”

Meaghan Biddle, 31, London, ON Locomotive Espresso

“I have a degree in anthropology and a degree in classical civilizations and also in fashion design. I started working in coffee at a Starbucks about ten years ago, I worked there and worked my way up the company in a couple of years, but then I moved into just coffee so I started working at a small café in Toronto.”

Nelson Phu, 29, Calgary, Rosso Coffee Roasters  What makes a good cup of coffee?  “You need some acidity, ‘cause it’s interesting, definitely some sweetness and a couple notes, distinct flavor notes, make it amazing. A super long finish is also super nice.”  What does that mean? ‘Super long finish’?  “So imagine eating a caramel, and when you’re done the caramel, you’re still tasting the caramel. That’s the super long finish. It’s really rare to find that in coffee so it’s really nice if you do get one.”

Nelson Phu, 29, Calgary, Rosso Coffee Roasters

What makes a good cup of coffee?

“You need some acidity, ‘cause it’s interesting, definitely some sweetness and a couple notes, distinct flavor notes, make it amazing. A super long finish is also super nice.”

What does that mean? ‘Super long finish’?

“So imagine eating a caramel, and when you’re done the caramel, you’re still tasting the caramel. That’s the super long finish. It’s really rare to find that in coffee so it’s really nice if you do get one.”

Sameer Mohamed, 37, Toronto, Fahrenheit Coffee  “I competed about 15 years ago, that was my first competition, since then rules have changed, methods have changed and so there’s been a lot of adaptation, a lot of, I guess the industry as a whole has been steadied.”

Sameer Mohamed, 37, Toronto, Fahrenheit Coffee

“I competed about 15 years ago, that was my first competition, since then rules have changed, methods have changed and so there’s been a lot of adaptation, a lot of, I guess the industry as a whole has been steadied.”

Cole Torode, 27, Calgary, Rosso Coffee Roasters  2018 and 2019 National Barista Championship Winner  “We live in a very fortunate place in the world and coffee is not grown here but we appreciate coffee and I think the more, from a specialty coffee side, the more people we can bring into specialty coffee, the more we can pay premiums backward toward the supply chain to developing nations and to people who are just less fortunate than us, based on where they were born.”

Cole Torode, 27, Calgary, Rosso Coffee Roasters

2018 and 2019 National Barista Championship Winner

“We live in a very fortunate place in the world and coffee is not grown here but we appreciate coffee and I think the more, from a specialty coffee side, the more people we can bring into specialty coffee, the more we can pay premiums backward toward the supply chain to developing nations and to people who are just less fortunate than us, based on where they were born.”

Karine Ng, 32, Calgary, Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters  Describe how you trained for this competition:  “It’s almost like choreography. Kind of like if you’re a dancer you know exactly what moves you’re making at what time, at what point in time so it’s kind of like that, so repeating those movements a lot so you get to be very automatic about it. …all my spare time goes towards preparation for competition.”

Karine Ng, 32, Calgary, Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters

Describe how you trained for this competition:

“It’s almost like choreography. Kind of like if you’re a dancer you know exactly what moves you’re making at what time, at what point in time so it’s kind of like that, so repeating those movements a lot so you get to be very automatic about it. …all my spare time goes towards preparation for competition.”

Judges taste test coffee at the Canadian Barista Championships in Toronto.

Judges taste test coffee at the Canadian Barista Championships in Toronto.

Chemin du Roy/Quebec City Part 1 by Jessica Lee


I took a little road trip from Montreal to Quebec City with Mike and Anik, two friends I met last summer in Saskatoon. Together, our stories are weaved throughout Canada. Mike is originally from Winnipeg, but now both of them live in Toronto. They drove down for a weekend to come visit me in Montreal and to tour the province. All of us would not have met if not for the fates that brought us all to Saskatoon. Mike was finishing his Masters degree at University of Saskatoon, and Anik and I were part of a Canadian Heritage program (aka government-funded French exchange), which happened to give both of us our last choice in destination. Luckily, we both still decided to do the program.

Lately, I've been thinking about how small the world seems when you know a bunch of people from different places. I found out recently that a friend from Europe whom I met in Toronto met this girl in Asia whom I was about to meet in another city in Canada. It's not like I know a large portion of the world's population- it's just likely coincidences (we're all travellers, we're all social and we're all in the same age demographic; we were bound to bump into each other on the road at some point). Anyway, I digress, back to the trip.

We drove to Quebec City from Montreal on Chemin du Roy, which is a beautiful winding country road that leads to beaches like this:


And views like this:


We arrived in Quebec City after a few hours, just before the sun set.


It gave the boys time to wander around the old Quebec City before dinner, while I enjoyed a gypsy jazz busker band we stumbled upon.


I've always loved jazz music. Every summer in Toronto, I would go to the jazz festivals, some summers, I attended every night. When I first moved to Montreal, the jazz festival was taking place and I went as often as I could. But of course, the jazz festival stopped after two weeks, so I love random treats like this!


Here is a snapshot of what the touristy part of Quebec City looks like:

The architecture and small streets are gorgeous aren't they?


It definitely takes me back to Paris or even Bruges. One day I would like to live in a city like this with a balcony overlooking one of the busy streets, but instead of clothing stores, it would be a residential neighbourhood. On the street I would live on, there would be a cheese shop, a small grocery store, cafe and also a bakery. Further along the road, there would be a cinema and some restaurants. I would own a bike with a basket, and not much else. I'm going to stop here. I'm starting to realize this city I'm describing sounds a lot like Lund, Sweden.

We had dinner at Le Lapin Sauté because rabbit is a French delicacy and you just can't eat hamburgers and salad everywhere you go. To really experience a place, you have to experience their food too, even if it sometimes makes you queasy. I ordered the rabbit with rosemary and honey sauce, which actually tasted like chicken, but at least now I know. The only other time I've had rabbit was in Indonesia two years ago, where it was grilled with satay sauce.


After dinner, it started to rain heavily, which sounds terrible, but actually, it's perfect for photography because when people leave and duck to find shelter, you end up with empty streets without anyone jumping into your shots. I stuck around and grabbed a few photos, then we turned in for the night.

23 and Europe by Jessica Lee



On my 23rd birthday, I got on a plane to Europe and landed in Reykjavik, Iceland, 5 hours later.

I plan to start off 23 with a mini retirement/ learning sabbatical /inspirational intermission. Length of time? Around 2-3 months.

My mission for this trip is:

1. To see parts of the world I haven't seen before
2. Experience several different cultures/ways of living
3. Figure out my favourite cities/ find inspiration for how I want to plan my future lifestyle
4. Fill my photography portfolio with more travel photography
5. Further educate myself on different parts of the world (in depth and with personal connections)
6. Relax a bit
7. See my friends and create wonderful memories

I think it's important to have these little gaps in between a professional career to step out of a routine, stretch comfort zones and disrupt life (in a good way). New experiences (and meeting new people, sometimes) always bring more insight and learning but they don't always happen by themselves, which is why sometimes you have to create opportunities for things to happen organically...

We shall see what comes about in the next couple of months. I'll keep writing if you keep reading. Deal?


Beer-tasting the Toronto pub scene! by Jessica Lee


I handed in my last university paper last week so during the weekend, I went to my first official beer-tasting. It was a pub crawl organized by DishcrawlTO. Basically you go to different pubs (there were six on this list) and sample different local Ontario craft beers, which is beer made from smaller companies.



I'm not much of a beer drinker (prefer wine) and thus not very knowledgeable about beer. But I did learn a few things on this trip.
1. I enjoy lighter beers
2. Toronto has a diverse pub scene
3. Some beer (and food) is really really gross

Below is a photo of us starting out at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club (look how confident we are, we thought we were going to down all 12 5-ounce beer samples). Love the decor in there by the way! We sampled Amsterdam Brewery's Big Wheel and Boneshaker. Big Wheel was mild, malty and smooth, while Boneshaker was strong, dark and had a "grassy taste", according to my friend Yamri.


One thing I've discovered about beer-tasting is that it's vastly different from wine-tasting. Sure both are sampling an alcoholic beverage but the crowd here was much different. There weren't any old ladies unlike when I did a wine-tasting in Australia. Also, there was no spitting bucket. And there was less knowledge about the beer from the person serving it to you.

At the wine-tastings I've been to, the sommeliers told you all the tasting notes that were going to be present and generally knew the alcohol levels, etc. At the beer-tasting, perhaps the servers knew the product, but they didn't bother telling us more things about it (possibly because they assumed the crowd wouldn't care, ie. they were just there to get drunk).

Luckily, some of the brewery owners were personally there at the pubs to tell us about their beers.

Here we are at Bier Markt; my favourite out of all six pubs because we got to sit on their patio. And because we got to eat their delicious food.


The owner of Spearhead Brewery was there to let us know that the lighter one, the Hawaiian-style pale ale needed to be kept away from heat otherwise there would be lots of "hops". "Hops" is a beer term which means bitterness.

He also told us about which tasting notes to expect, which made it easier for us to perceive the taste. The light one had a tinge of pineapple aftertaste and the dark one, the Belgian stout was creamy and had chocolate notes.


We also had the bar food, which was slow-cooked beef brisket. Amazing.


While we were there, we also ordered the beer-battered fried chicken and waffles, which were delicious!


Here is a photo of the patio crowd- the weather was amazing for April in Toronto.


Next, we moved on to Scotland Yard. I absolutely loved the vibe of the place. There were older people in there (in their 50s and 60s) so I felt like I was connecting with old souls. The place had a "whisky and cigarettes" and "back in my day" feel. Also, the bar was constructed of solid wood and had that "traditional"pub look. Scotland Yard is a pub I would imagine meeting one of my distinguished professors at and having intelligent debates (while we drink whisky on the rocks of course)- very "Yale" and "Harvard".

We had Mill Street Brewery's Vanilla Porter which was my favourite so far.


Here is the food we also ate/ didn't finish. Nachos and poutine.


Next we headed to Fionn MacCools, another Irish Pub. We were here on St. Patty's weekend and got to experience river dancing. The atmosphere was much more relaxed for our afternoon beer-tasting though. We tried Duggans Brewery's No. 9 (malty, disgusting, bitter) and No.5 (light, good, Sapporo style).


We swiftly headed to Great Burger Kitchen afterwards for Beau's Lug Tread Lagered Ale and Beaver River I. P. Eh (some Canadian there for you). I don't remember if we liked it or not because we stopped taking notes. Isn't it cute that you can have beer in a 70's style diner?


Our last stop was Berber Social and they definitely did not give us 5 ounce samples, but whole pints of beer. Needless to say we did not finish the entire glass, but we had fun tasting everything. This is the Orange Peel Ale from Great Lakes Brewery.


And thus, that concluded our beer-tasting tour. It was interesting to see all interiors of the different pubs along the Esplanade and to sample the different Ontario breweries. I hope to one day head to Ireland and England and compare the pub scene over there to our Canadian pub scene.

Thank you to DishcrawlTO for this experience.

The story of the mix CD or why I know all the words of a random Portuguese song by Jessica Lee


About a month ago, I set off on a road trip with a couple of friends around the eastern coast of Australia.

We had all been on road trips before but we all made the same rookie mistake in not bringing along music for the long 3500 km drive.

We were in luck however as we found out the person who rented the campervan before us had left a mix CD in the player. The twelve songs on this CD would be the only music we had during the full two weeks of our driving. As a result, we became extremely familiar with all the songs.

Though it has been more than a month, I can still tell you which song is on which track.

We didn't mind most of the songs, in fact they were songs we would have listened to anyway. There was some Coldplay, Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" (very fitting for an Australian road trip), Michael Jackson, Mumford and Sons, and some indie bands.

One song stood out in particular because it was in a language we didn't recognize and because the tune was more cultural than the rest of the songs on the CD.

I immediately took a liking to this strange and mysterious song and soon learned the words after playing it many many times repeatedly to the chagrin of my travel buddies. They liked the song too, just not as much as I did.

It's refreshing and a little exciting to not know what the words you sing mean. Or to not even know the language of what you're singing. We had deduced the song was European, but that's as far as we got despite my repeated google searches to find out more about the song. In my travels, I met a lovely German couple who recognized the song when I sung it to them, but they didn't know the origins either. However the fact that they knew the song confirmed it was popular in the European market. I didn't figure out more about the song after that. My search to find out more about the song ended soon after the trip finished.

That is, until the other day.

I met three Italian men on the beach in Bali. We got to talking about music and they revealed the song was actually Portuguese. This time, I managed to find out the name of the song through Google after adding "portuguese" beside a lyric I sounded out. After a month and a half, I FINALLY found the name of the song.

The song is called "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" and is performed by Michel Telo. In English, the title is roughly translated to "Ah When I Get My Hands On You".

Basically for the past month, I've been singing in Portuguese of the naughty things I'm going to do to some hot girl at a dance club when I get my hands on her. I think this is hilarious because now I know how to pick up chicks in Portuguese. I mean, if I ever wanted to.

It's a really catchy song so you can't really blame me for singing it nonstop. Even now that I know what the lyrics mean, I would still sing it aloud in public if I ever went to visit Portugal.

Listen here for yourself and let me know what you think:


Readers, I'd love to hear from you! Do you have any strange or funny stories involving language on your travels?

All that jazz! Darling Harbour Jazz Fest by Jessica Lee


I remember the precise moment I fell in love with jazz music. Summer 2009, at the Beaches Jazz Festival in Toronto.

I was young, wide-eyed and fresh out of my first year of university. Jazz, swing and blues was a whole new world to me. The seduction of the rhythm and the way you could feel the emotion behind each note was just too much. People were dancing in the streets and singing along. I fell whole-heartedly and contently.

When I heard there was a jazz festival at Darling Harbour, I decided I would go despite the looming exams.

It was the first time I had gone to Darling Harbour in the daytime and it was just beautiful. A little touristy- but still nice.


The festival was only a three-day one and not as big or memorable as the one I go to in Toronto every year and as a result, it made me miss my hometown.

The summer months in Toronto (June, July, August) are the best months of the year. All the major festivals take place during this time, the patios are all open, the weather is nice and warm, and usually I'm off school. I'm pretty bummed I'll have to miss my favourite time of the year in Toronto because I'm travelling, but you can't have everything and travelling to a new countries will be novel and hopefully exciting.

Here are a few photos of Jazz Fest:

It's a pretty tourist-oriented area so buskers are always around.


I thought the little trains were pretty cool. You pay them $4.50 or $3.50 if you're a child and then you get a little tour. Obviously it's a tourist trap because Darling Harbour isn't that big and is definitely walkable.


There was a good-size crowd but again, since it was in Darling Harbour, some of these people were tourists and not genuine music lovers- the vibe just wasn't there.


That's okay though. I enjoyed the music.


This is James Valentine (another J.V., not the ex Maroon 5 member). I had never heard of him either, but he was alright. He was actually quite decent, but I used to work at a concert venue (lots of AMAZING music) and I also go see a lot of live shows in my spare time so my standards have flown pretty high.


The audience doesn't look that impressed. Tough crowd.


The festival went on until night, but we didn't stay long due to exams. I did however manage to fit in a dance at the end.

Cottage trip to Hawks Nest, NSW by Jessica Lee

I went sailing this weekend at Hawks Nest, which is a little cottage town 3 hours away from Sydney.

Spending St. Patrick's Day with a group of sailors (40+ total) was one of the craziest parties I've ever been to. But more on that later.

I want to show you pictures of the cottage we went to.


This is the view of our backyard.



The gorgeous patio.

We left on Friday night and got there around 11 pm, so my mental capabilities weren't at its most alert when we finally stumbled in to 40 people hanging out and eating in a porch/dining room. It was then when I experienced my first big cultural clash since being in Sydney...

But not with Australians.

When I got there, I was greeted by a French guy, some Australian guys and a Belgian guy. I got hugs from the Australian guys and everything was fine. And then the Europeans moved in and judging from body language (open arms), I assumed he were going for a hug, but nope. It was cheek kisses!

So here I am attempting to hug this guy, and he is trying to give me cheek kisses at the same time. It was a lovely surprise for both parties.

But now at least I will know what to expect when I travel to Europe. I've been there before, but went in a tour bus, so we didn't meet any real Europeans to greet with cheek kisses.

After a late dinner of pasta at midnight, we headed down to the beach for a beach bonfire where there was marshmallow roasting and acoustic guitar music. You could see the stars lit up at night, and a yellow moon in the corner. It was quite spectacular. 

I can cross "beach bonfire" off my list now, as in Toronto I've only enjoyed fires around campgrounds.


Another thing I can cross off my list is dry capsizing on a sailboat!

When I did it on Saturday in front of a small crowd on the beach, I kind of played it off like I did it all the time which made me look somewhat pro, but really it was the first time I had achieved such a feat.


For those of you non-sailors, dry capsizing is climbing over the edge of the boat that isn't tipping into the water and bringing the boat back up with your weight/strength when the boat tips into the water sideways.

After sailing, we watched some kite surfers do their thing on the water.

Previous to seeing kite surfing in person, I've always thought wake boarders were the coolest people on the planet. Seeing the kite surfers this weekend has challenged this perception. Kite surfing looks so cool! And the guys who were doing their tricks made it look like the easiest thing ever, and they were metres off the water, which frightened me at the same time. Regardless, I am probably going to go kite surfing this weekend just because.

I don't have photos of the epic St. Patty's party, but I will try to describe it to you in words.

Imagine 40+ people crammed into a small indoor beach porch + dining room. A barbecue is happening in the backyard. There is loud music playing, and the biggest mountain of food I've ever seen in one place at the same time. I was legitimately worried that we wouldn't be able to eat all the carrots we had chopped, and I'm not even sure if we did end up eating it all.

Here is where I learned what the Aussie term "goon" means. It's actually just cheap wine, which is usually sold in a bag.

On Sunday, we had another sail, then packed up and headed back to Sydney.


But first, a detour to a small New South Wales town named Toronto!!!


This is their main street. (Note how it says "Toronto")


This is their sailing club, which I thought was cute.


At the end of the trip, we had a free for all for the remaining food that wasn't eaten.

I grabbed two loaves of bread (there were more than a dozen), some apples, and a full jar of Nutino, which is the Italian version of Nutella.

My goal for this week is to spend $10 or less on food. Milk costs $3, and I'm planning to buy sandwich materials with the other $7.

I'll let you know if I manage to make this happen!

Until next time...

A day at the ballet by Jessica Lee

Today was pretty much a perfect day.

I woke up at 9 am. Then I went back to sleep again. And I woke up at 3 pm. (Sorry in advance, not a lot of pictures for this post because I spent the day sleeping)

I sat around for a bit, got ready to go out, then went with my cousin and friends to Japanese hot pot, which is called Shabu-shabu. It was pretty good, except for the part when I started to hate myself after eating too much. (It was a buffet)


For those of you who aren't Asian and don't know what hot pot is (and you should try it at least once in your life), it is a communal pot of boiling soup in the middle of the table and everyone throws in meats and greens and other things like noodles. When things are cooked, you serve one another. Or in my case, keep feeding everyone around the table to get rid of food once you're full. :)

You get to go around and pick out which foods you want to cook.

Afterwards, we were treated to five flavours of Haagen Daz ice cream, which was amazing because how often do buffet restaurants serve gourmet ice cream?

One of the best things about today was that I didn't spend a penny!

(I spent the money yesterday.)

On impulse, yesterday, I bought a ballet ticket to see the Lyon Opera Ballet for today.

Here is a picture of the theatre inside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.


The ballet was in town for the Hong Kong Arts Festival. It's kind of a funny story because the subways all over HK were advertising for this block of shows (three shows in total), and the guy who's photo they chose as the face of the Lyon Opera Ballet- well I thought the guy looked like a creep (it's because he had a goatee) and every time I passed the ad, I would think "good luck trying to get people to see the show with that ad"! Little did I know I would be the one watching it a couple of days later.

The show was spectacular!

I had seen a ballet show once before when I was a kid (The Nutcracker), but this was different because it had neoclassical themes and was more contemporary.

The performance consisted of four separate ballets. The first performance was the most classical, with an ensemble and lead dancers and everyone dressed in leotards and pointe shoes. I think it was placed first to appease the traditional purists (me).

The second performance started to get more modern (it was four guys dancing ballet but they were dressed in farmer's shirts). The forms were more like something you'd see on So You Think You Can Dance. The guy with the creepy goatee appeared in this one, but he had shaved his goatee off! (I was pretty happy about that.)

The third performance consisted of four women dancing, but I wasn't a big fan. The choreographer was experimenting with German Expressionism, so instead of nice posture that is typical of traditional ballet, the women had hunched backs throughout the thing- which wasn't the nicest thing to look at. Besides the posture, I liked the choreography. It was discordant and interesting. It opened my eyes to something new.

My favourite piece of all was the last one. The theme was modern day chaos, and the music had blended classical piano with sounds of radio transmissions and other "tech-y" sounds. The whole thing was beautifully put together and danced. It was very graceful, but seemingly organic, with dancers running on and off the stage. The group was like a living, breathing organism- that's how well everyone worked together. The scene reminded me of the dancers who performed with Muse when they appeared on the Grammy Awards (google it if you haven't seen). I read the choreographer's bio and it said he choreographed Black Swan and appeared in it! Amazing.

I don't want to bore you with words, but if you have the chance, go see the Lyon Opera Ballet. The artistic vision is modern, but has classical elements to it as well.

By the way, interesting fact: this show was the most white people I've seen congregating together in Hong Kong. Audience was about 50/50 Asian-Cauasian. Not too many Chinese people here are into arts I'm afraid.

This is a photo of the intermission. See if you can count the white people and the Asian people!


After the show, it was around 10:30 pm. One of the awesome things I noticed about HK is that the malls are still open up until 11 pm. In Toronto, things start to close around 6 pm and they are open until 9 pm if you're lucky! I love the convenience of being able to shop whenever I want here. I think it's interesting how the cultures are different. In Toronto, I'm assuming people spend time after 9 pm at home with family, which is why store hours are shorter, because they don't get many customers anyway. Your thoughts?