7Nov

Traveling for Food: Exploring food allergies

What draws you to travel?

What blossomed in the East started to find its way into the global palate. Expats from Europe and the US have made gastronomic trips to Asia to further understand the culture of each different country, from the bowls of spicy noodles to the more exotic street and hawker stalls.

However, there is a limit to knowing the world through cuisines. Embedded within us is a limiting agent in the form of allergies to remind us that our body can only handle so much.

Allergies are our body’s unique way of telling us what is compatible and what is not to our system. The reactions extend to the basic choices we make such as “tasty” or “not”.

By law, the FDA has listed eight categories as designated food allergens (Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans).

The categories seem easy on first glance until you realize that food allergies vary individually. Recent researches highlight the stark contrast with allergens through regions, such as in the West versus the East. This is vital information for travellers.

Here are a few common food allergies to help backpackers, expats, and casual travellers be more cautious while they explore Asia through food.

food allergies while travelling - Village Insurance Direct Hong Kong

Shellfish

According to a paper written in 2013, shellfish tops the list in food allergens in Asians, particularly in children, mainly due to its availability and demand in the region. A 2014 study from the Singapore Medical Journal, also reinforces the idea. While a lot of Asian cuisines is built on shellfish, a large chunk of the population remains highly allergic to it.

Peanuts

Peanuts remain as the top allergen in America and in some parts of Europe. The total number of cases in Asia is relatively low, but in some areas like in Singapore, the statistics prove otherwise. A good 15 years ago, peanut allergies had lower cases and aren’t considered a top allergen, until recently. This is a testament to the changing diets Asians have had through the years.

Wheat

Rice is the staple carbohydrate of every Asian. But to have wheat included in the list makes you want to feel bad for craving for bread as much as the next guy. Japan and South Korea, two countries famous for revolutionary modern takes on bread, suffer from prevalent cases of wheat allergy. They also rake in high numbers of anaphylaxis cases from this specific allergen.

Travel as much as you like, and eat as much as you like. Food allergies exist to make you aware of your limits, but not to scare you to crawl back to your comfort zones. Be bold and stick NOT with what you’re always comfortable with, but with what you’re COMPATIBLE with.

Serious allergic reaction to food can cause some people to be hospitalized. To be more secure during your travel, make sure you find a travel insurance that covers emergency hospitalization in the country you’re travelling.

We find the best travel insurance for expats living in Hong Kong.

3Mar

Expat Guide: Find a Nanny & Domestic Helper Insurance in Hong Kong

Finding a nanny can overwhelming and a new experience for expats in Hong Kong. What parents need to determine for themselves are: “What are our main motivations for hiring a nanny?” Often times, it boils down to a family’s preferences.

In Hong Kong having a nanny or domestic helper means they need to reside in your home. This is unfamiliar territory for many expats. In reality, there are plenty of domestic helpers who don’t live with their employers under illegal circumstances which is very risky for them as well as the people who hire them.

Furthermore, employers are required to provide Domestic Helper Insurance as part of their legal obligation.

In addition to having a worker live on the premises, parents or employers need to be mindful their objectives. Do they only need a worker or someone to play a role in tutoring the children? Parents also need to keep in mind that not every nanny is qualified to take care of children.

SCREEN THE HELPERS YOU PLAN TO HIRE

It is crucial that the domestic worker or nanny’s background is thoroughly checked. When it comes to applicants, it is important that you know that your nanny, the person taking care of your children is clean. There are different paths you can go around to do these screenings.

There are four checks that The Nanny Experts recommend when hiring someone for child care.

  1. References – Verify previous employers and dates
  2. Qualifications – Nannies and childcare workers should have a minimum of first aid and CPR.
  3. Criminal Checks – Most agencies will check the last ten years of employment (Some will request that potential nannies have these documents from their home countries)
  4. Medical check

CONTRACT AND OTHER DOCUMENTS

Parents who are considering hiring a nanny need to be mindful of contract and work permit laws in Hong Kong. When it comes to the work contract, employers need to be direct about what they expect from the nanny. Be thorough about their job description when drafting their contract. It is essential that the nanny and the family have clear communication and respect for one another. When you write it out and go over the contract together you talk about these things. Communication is really important.

For more information on how to hire domestic help, drama-free, read our blog here: http://villageinsurancedirect.com/expat-guide-hiring-domestic-helper/

14Dec

Expat Guide: Schools in Hong Kong

The former British colony’s education system is highly regarded with top standards. Even public schools uphold quality curriculums but are mainly taught in Cantonese with a focus on repetitive examinations—a system that might be different from what expats look for in a school. As a result, expats favor international schools.

ENTERING HONG KONG SCHOOLS

The first thing expats must know is that getting into good schools in Hong Kong could be challenging. The demand is high and so are the standards. If you’re planning to move with your family, we recommend you start your application a year early to take into account the waiting period. Affluent locals also compete for slots that make the process even more challenging. Some international companies sometimes reserve spots for their employees’ children so check to see if your employer can provide you with assistance.

Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong culture. Teachers are treated with a great deal of respect, and students tend to be disciplined and well behaved.

The school year in Hong Kong typically runs from September to July.
top schools in hongkong
Expats who choose to reside in Kowloon or the New Territories choose an international school based because of their close proximity to more international schools.

Expats also have to note that if your package does not include subsidy for your kid’s education, you might find tuition for international schools quite costly so best to look at all possible options.

Below is a list of international schools you can start with:

Hong Kong International School
www.hkis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 4 to 18

Harrow International School Hong Kong
www.harrowschool.hk/
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 4 to 18

American International School of Hong Kong
www.ais.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
div dir=”ltr”>Ages: 3 to 18

Australian International School Hong Kong
www.aishk.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Australian and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Beacon Hill School
www.beaconhill.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 10

Bradbury Junior School
www.bradbury.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 10

Canadian International Schools of Hong Kong
www.cdnis.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian (Ontario) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Carmel School of Hong Kong
www.carmel.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Jewish and general studies
Ages: 3 to 12

International Montessori School
www.montessori.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Montessori
Ages: 1,5 to 12

Kellet School (British International School in Hong Kong)
www.kellettschool.com

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British
Ages: 3 to 14

King George V School
www.kgv.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: British (IGCSE) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 12 to 18

Quarry Bay School
www.qbs.edu.hk
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 5 to 13

Yew Chung International School
www.ycis-hk.com
Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: IGCSE (Cambridge) and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 6 months to 19

For any assistance on family or personal insurance, we help find the best cover for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us today.

7Oct

Setting Up Your Utilities in Hong Kong

When you’ve settled in nicely in your new apartment in Hong Kong, the next step is to set up your utilities! In Hong Kong, it’s the tenant who takes it upon himself to sign up for water, electricity, and gas. We’re here to make it easy for you by listing down some supplier names so you can get started on your new life in the Pearl of the Orient.

ELECTRICITY

Hong Kong Electric started way back in 1890 and is now one of the most trusted utility companies in the world. Their service is reliable and affordable as well. They also have a reputation of being environmentally responsible which is a plus for some people. You can apply for Hong Kong Electric by downloading their form and emailing it to customerservices@hkelectric.com or dropping it at their customer service center along with your Hong Kong ID or passport and a deposit equivalent to around 60 days of consumption. Bills are due monthly and you can register for e-bills payment for a more convenient and environment-friendly payment. For more information, you may call them at 2887 3411 from 9AM-6PM, Mondays-Sundays. Once you’re a customer, you can download their Low Carbon App which provides information on energy safety and efficiency while helping with electric consumption estimation and tips on how to save energy. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

WATER

Water Supplies Department provides clean and safe water to around 7 million people in Hong Kong. To sign up, you may download theirform WW01 along with a copy of your Hong Kong ID. Applications take about a week to process and bills are sent every four months. They also have a free downloadable app on the App Store and Google Play that provides information about your bill and notifies you in case of suspension. You can also click the Payment icon to access a QR code in order to pay your bills with cash at any 7-Eleven, Circle K, or VanGO convenience stores. For more information, call them at 2824 5000 and press 3 for English.

Make sure to also get home insurance in case of accidental fire from bad wiring and plumbing. We help expats in Hong Kong find cheap insurance for their apartments.