MEET MY FRIEND: KANNA SZETO

SINGS *KANNA BANANA* (to the theme tune of ‘Mona the Vampire’ 52 seconds in)

I met Kanna back in 2015 through a mutual friend. Kanna had been considering working at the tutoring centre that I’d just left, and our mutual friend had seen that I’d mentioned where I worked on my Facebook and got in touch to say that Kanna had some questions about the centre.

Obviously, I felt that it was my duty to warn any poor unsuspecting soul away from that hellhole. So our mutual friend put us in touch with each other, we met up for dinner, and the rest is history.

We got on really well and met up loads more for ALL THE FOOD!

Kanna was one of my favourite people in Hong Kong. She is always up for trying new restaurants, great at finding bargains, and brilliant at helping me to take photos; full glory goes to her for taking two of my favourite photos on Instagram. She is incredibly patient, great at giving pointers whilst simultaneously shouting, “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”

In addition, she is also one of the most hard-working people that I know; Kanna managed to work a full-time job, study part-time AND tutored after work most days. Some may argue that she’s actually super-human…

Hi Kanna, tell us a little about yourself.

My name’s Kanna, I was made in the UK but now settled in Hong Kong! I am an English phonics teacher, doing what I love, teaching in a kindergarten to kids from the age of 3 to 5. 

In my spare time I like to go running, not to keep fit but so I can continue eating everything I want. When you live in Hong Kong, I believe it’s a waste not to try all the food that is on offer. This is one of the reasons why I prefer Hong Kong to the UK, the vast range of food readily available at affordable prices is just beyond your imagination!

Apart from running, I am teaching myself to read Chinese, one character at a time. I feel I have disappointed my ancestors (cue Mushu from Mulan) by not learning any when I was young, so I must make up SOME lost ground to save a slither of dignity and make them a teeny bit less disappointed.

During these unprecedented times, how are you doing and what are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

Personally, I’m great! Can’t complain when there’s not much work to do and I don’t have to go in as often. It’s a nice break to have to be able to gain a new hobby or delve into interests you had before but did not have time for. For me, learning Chinese is one of them and the second is drawing.

Luckily for us, Hong Kong hasn’t implemented a complete lockdown, so we are free to roam (although no more than 4 people together). My all-time favourite is to bring lunch to a place called West Kowloon Park which is situated along the waterfront. In my opinion, it has THE best view of Hong Kong’s skyline. You have views of Tsim Sha Tsui, Wan Chai, Central and the rest of the Hong Kong island, all unobstructed.

The view at night is absolutely spectacular, you really do have to be there to comprehend the beauty of it all. Night picnicking is another activity I truly love to do there. On a clear day, you can see the night sky dotted with lots of twinkling stars, which is a rare occasion at ground level due to the bright lights. It’s just magical.

What are you most looking forward to doing when freedom is upon us again?

HOT POT WITH FRIENDS!

What is your earliest memory?

Earliest memory is being in nursery. I can still smell the paint in the room. I remember playing at the water and sand table, wearing an apron with some other kids.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer, purely on the basis of believing I was good at arguing. No thanks. So glad I didn’t go down that road.

A genie gives you three wishes: what are they?

– World peace

– Healthy family

– Common sense in everyone

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is getting into The University of Hong Kong and kicking ass in all my assignments and hence completing my course in Early Childhood Education and finally becoming an official qualified kindergarten teacher, all whilst juggling a full-time job and tutoring 5 days a week, 4 of which were after work. GO ME!

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Still in Hong Kong, but in my own flat (highly unlikely as flat prices are more extortionate than London and not even worth it compared to the amount of space you get! Highly unlikely but not totally unobtainable).

If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

If we are talking personally, I wouldn’t, because all the experiences and choices I made led me to where I need/want to be!

What’s the best gift you’ve been given?

Best gift given has to be the gift of life every day (cheesy I know, but so true). Being able to wake up healthy to carry on doing what I want, enjoying my life here in Hong Kong.

If money was no object, what would you do all day?

Taking family and friends to travel to different countries and sampling all local cuisines of course!

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?

If I was a super-hero, I’d want to be able to teleport. See answer above for reason.

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Saying bye to the UK after graduation and accepting a job in Singapore without really knowing what I will be doing there. I needed to get out.

If I were to come round to your house for dinner, what would you cook for me?

I would make a Thai yellow chicken curry and lettuce wraps.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?

Sea cucumber. Never again!

Do you collect anything?

I collect funny looking stones. I have one that looks like a slice of cheese pizza and one that looks like a steak!

What’s the most interesting thing that you can see out of your window right now?

Some topless middle-aged guy sat on the sofa, hahahahahahaha.

Which celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a coffee?

TARON EGERTON!

What would be your ‘death row meal’?

First of all, what the HELL did I do to end up on death row?! My life really took a U-turn…

It would be curry beef brisket with rice and a coconut red bean drink. For dessert I would love some mango sticky rice with a whole mango.

Do you live by any piece of advice or motto?

YES, a few actually.

– “If things don’t work out, it’s the universe telling you, you deserve much better”

– “You can always earn more money, but you can never buy more time”  

– “No job is more important than your health or happiness”

– My mum gives me plenty of advice/Chinese sayings but the 2 that I can think of on the top of my head are (loosely translated) “Hot guys always have a change of heart” (dating advice, especially in the modern age of technology) and “If you lend money to anyone, think about whether you can forgo that amount because you have to assume they cannot or will not pay you back. If that person takes the money and disappears without trace, see it as a lesson well spent, as it enabled you to see what kind of person they really are”. 

What would your ideal weekend look like?

Waking up early to have breakfast with friends/family, making picnic food and going on a simple hike or hit the beach to do some sunbathing and water sports. In the night, finish it off with a hot pot dinner or BBQ!

What is your biggest fear?

Dying alone.

What makes you angry?

– (In HK) Seeing the mum take their kid to school not carrying a thing whilst the helper is carrying the school bag, musical instrument, lunch bag etc. trailing behind. What the actual f is wrong with people?!

– When people take up both sides of the escalator. YOU MAY NOT BE IN A HURRY BUT I AM THANK YOU! Same as when 2+ people walk on a narrow pavement side by side. THE PATH DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU!

– When ignorant people say “but you look Asian” when you tell them you were born in the UK (eye roll). Actually, any ignorant comment about race.

What’s your most prized possession and why?

Laying on the cheese again…my family because they’re irreplaceable.

What personality traits do you share with your relatives?

Loud, sassy, mostly positive and sociable

What’s the first thing you look for in a partner and/or friend?

Chemistry. Not many people can complement my personality. When looking for a partner though, definitely looking to see if they match the pictures on their profiles on dating apps (I have been disappointed so many times).

What is your favourite memory of ours?

Hitting the beach or helping to take your photo – “DON’T LOOK AT ME!” 

If you’re as impressed by Kanna as I am, check out her Instagram and/or her food account to follow her epic edible adventures!

xxx

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