Busy Suzie at 1881 Heritage

By , July 31, 2010 12:09 am

The chef delivers the food using the wooden oar or paddle
Our first dinner in Hong Kong proved to be one of the best. The Hong Kong Tourism Board arranged for us to dine at Busy Suzie, a Japanese robatayaki restaurant and bar. We were very privileged to have Chef Iwagami Yoshiaki serving our table.

Robatayaki has its origins in Sendai, northeastern Japan, where fishermen would cook their daily catch over an open fire using little more than their wooden oars. They would loudly announce when the food was cooked, and pass it to their customers on the oar. Those were makeshift beach restaurants, but Busy Suzie is a really hip and high-end interpretation of this.

The 1881 Heritage is majestic
Busy Suzie is located at Tsim Sha Tsui’s 1881 Heritage, the historic Marine Police headquarters that’s been transformed into a magnificent hotel-shopping-exhibition complex. It’s stunningly beautiful at night.

The restaurant resides in the former lighthouse building where Hong Kong’s typhoon warning signals were raised. The circular nature of the building really suits the restaurant. There’s a terrace around it with white leather loungers for al fresco dining, and inside, the long curved robata counters ensconce hidden dining rooms.

Busy Suzie's stylish private dining room
Photo courtesy of Busy Suzie
Interior design is by French married duo Patrick Gilles and Dorothee Boissier (previously lead designers under Phillipe Stark). Lots of dark wood, bamboo walls and white paper lanterns by Isometrix. This is the private dining room that seats 12.

Founder Gilbert Yeung who also owns the dragon-i nightclub intended for Busy Suzie to be a stylish and fun place to put diners in an uplifted mood before a night out on the town.

The restaurant's main dining area is a circular ring, and the chefs kneel elevated before the grill
Busy Suzie’s chefs are all brought in from Japan. It’s really hard work for the chefs, who kneel constantly on an elevated stage. They do all their work there – skewer items, bend over the grill to cook, and then plate each dish before finally serving it to diners via the wooden oar.

In front of them lie the ingredients ready to be used. Busy Suzie seeks to have the finest and freshest ingredients flown in daily from many parts of Japan. Let me show you what some of these are.

Hokkaido Crab
There’s Hokkaido Crab…

Bounty of the sea - Kinki fish, abalone, crab, whelks and conches
Bounty of the sea – Kinki fish, abalone, crab, whelks and conches…

Raw meat skewers - I'm eyeing the Miyazaki A5 wagyu sirloin (bottom right)!
Raw meat skewers of various kinds – I’m eyeing the Miyazaki A5 wagyu sirloin (bottom right)! The Kagoshima pork skewers are also highly recommended. I can see why. Just look at the fatty streaks!

Assorted items - nice mentaiko
Some assorted items – fish, fishcake and fish eggs (mentaiko?)…

Tomatoes from Chiba - these look too good to be eaten!
Tomatoes from Chiba that look so perfect, they’re almost unreal! Too good to be eaten. And those are ginkgo nuts behind. Japanese ones tend not to be bitter.

Ayu or sweetfish is in season
Ayu or sweetfish is in season. They look gleamingly fresh and perfect. Somehow their cute faces remind me of the black minstrels, no?

Farm-fresh vegetables
Get your vegetables here. Some of these can be from Australia.

Aussie Pete may have Viking DNA in him!
Speaking of Australia, here’s Aussie Pete exploring his inner Viking.

Even the double-ended chopsticks are imported from Japan
Moving along to food. Oh they even import their chopsticks from Japan! Can you imagine? These are interesting ones – double-ended.

Amuse bouche? Japanese mashed potatoes
This dollop of Japanese mashed potato came first, probably an amuse bouche. Very nice and savoury.

Hokkaido King Crab Fillet Salad
Appetiser of Hokkaido King Crab Fillet Salad. You can taste the shredded chunks of crab and the flavour of the sea.

Chef basting the asparagus
There is great anticipation as we wait for each course to be grilled and served hot. The chef announces loudly (all in Japanese, of course) that it’s ready and invites the diner to partake in the food. Servers in the restaurant are also constantly shouting orders to the chefs, who in return confirm the orders. The atmosphere is boisterous but fun.

Asparagus and shiitake mushrooms
We started light with four kinds of grilled vegetables. Very nice asparagus and shiitake mushrooms.

Zucchini and pumpkin
The grilled pumpkin still had a bit of crunch to it – quite unusual, since I only know pumpkin to be mushy. The zucchini was nice, but a bit too much like cooked cucumber for me.

Kochi Quail Eggs
We got to choose a main each. This is Gin’s platter of Kochi quail eggs.

Gyu-tan or Beef's Tongue
I went for the Beef Tongue or Gyu-tan. This can be quite tasty if you don’t think about which part of the animal it is. Goes wonderfully with the grainy mustard.

Kagoshima chicken wings
Geck Geck had the Kagoshima chicken wings. The skin is superbly crisp and well-seasoned.

Chef Iwagami seasoning chicken wings with salt
It’s a marvel watching the chefs doing everything with deft skills and concentration. Even the scattering of salt is done with dramatic flourish.

Grilled salmon fillet - very tender
Ah they do know how to grill their salmon. It’s very tender, with none of that dry, flaky overcooked quality.

Grilled minced pork sausage
Grilled minced pork sausage, with a handy bone that adds a primordial touch. This was incredibly delicious. A little bit sweet like Taiwan sausage, but much more robust and meaty.

Gin trying her hand with the oar and a heavy ceramic tray
The chefs are quite happy to let us play with the oars, and to see just how heavy they are. Here’s Gin trying her hand with the oar and a heavy ceramic tray.

Seafood fried rice
We got to choose between seafood fried rice and hot soba noodles. The rice is delicious with generous bits of prawn, scallop, fish and egg.

Grilled teriyaki chicken
Grilled teriyaki chicken. This would go wonderfully with any rice.

Yuzu jelly with red currants
The yuzu jelly is amazing! It looks so simple, but your first mouthful will bring forth “a surge of happiness”, as aptly described by Gin. Bits of real yuzu peel add texture and fragrance to the dessert. とてもおいしいです!

Geck Geck, Gin and I
Photo by Iwagami-san. He’s good with the camera too!

Group photo with chef Iwagami Yoshiaki (bottom, centre)
Group shot with the chef and his oars!
Top row – Gin, me, Geck Geck, Jerome. Bottom row – Sze Ping, Iwagami-san, Pete.

This ends our first day’s feasting. Gochisosama deshita! Thank you, Hong Kong Tourism Board, for the meal and introducing this place to us!

"Pop Star Gold" fiberglass figure by Colin Christian
On your way out (or in as well), you will see pieces of modern Japanese art scattered throughout the restaurant. Here’s a disembodied head made from fiberglass, called “Pop Star Gold” by artist Colin Christian. Somehow very Suzie, don’t you think?

"36624 Roppongi" oil on canvas by Hiro Ando
And facing the stairs to the restrooms is “36624 Roppongi” by Hiro Ando. Mildly disturbing. Carp should not be walking on pavement.

"This thing is not light, OK?"
This was a very good meal indeed. I’m so envious that Hong Kongers get to enjoy the weekend brunch buffet (noon to 3pm; HK$350+ per adult and HK$160+ per child). It includes marinated abalone, sushi and sashimi platter, and selections including beef tenderloin, chicken teriyaki, chicken wings, pork fillet, sausage, prawns, oysters, silver cod, squid, salmon and more. There’s also tempura and vegetable selections, along with soba, inaniwa udon, fried rice, miso soup and a whole array of desserts to round things up.

"Busy Suzie" is a play on the Lazy Susan turntable
By now you can guess that the name Busy Suzie is a play on the word “Lazy Susan” – that turntable which delivers food to people seated at a large table. The chefs are the ones delivering the food around the long circular counter in a similar fashion. And they are very busy indeed. I love the atmosphere. This is certainly a cool place to bring a date, or to celebrate a special occasion.

BUSY SUZIE
Shop 209, 2/F, 1881 Heritage,
2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2369-0077
Open daily
Lunch: noon to 3pm (2.30pm last order)
Dinner: 6pm to 1am (10.30pm last order)

View Larger Map

The Stairway … uh, wait a minute, Escalator to Heaven

By , July 30, 2010 11:00 am

One of the fascinating things about Hong Kong is how simple names that are attached to some of the places or features are. One such feature is the Central Mid-Level Escalators, Central because of its starting point in the Central district of Hong Kong, Mid-Level because of its end point which is on the Mid-Level area, and Escalator, because it is indeed an escalator or a set of escalators that was built in 1993 to ease congestion on the narrow streets at a cost of $245 million Hong Kong Dollars. It is estimated that some 54,000 pedestrians use it a day, twice what was originally estimated. The 800 metre long set of escalators moves downhill from 6 am to 10 am and uphill from 10.15 am to midnight, climbing some 135 metres in height. The escalators also provide the visitor with opportunities to see some of the older parts of Hong Kong and a notable building along the route of the escalators is the classical styled former Central Police Station main building with a façade featuring Doric columns, which was completed in 1919.

The Mid Level Escalators were built in 1993 and provides quick and easy access from Central to SoHo and the Mid-Levels.

The Mid Level Escalators were built in 1993 and provides quick and easy access from Central to SoHo and the Mid-Levels.

The escalators make ascending the steep slope of Victoria Peak a breeze.

The escalators make ascending the steep slope of Victoria Peak a breeze.

The Mid-Level Escalators provides sightseeing opportunities to the visitor - the Main Building of the Central Police Station on Hollywood Road constructed in 1919 is seen here.

The Mid-Level Escalators provides sightseeing opportunities to the visitor - the Main Building of the Central Police Station on Hollywood Road constructed in 1919 is seen here.

The escalators provide many a photographic opportunity.

The escalators provide many a photographic opportunity.

The escalators also provide an opportunity for the visitor to get up close to day-to-day lives of the working folk of Hong Kong.

The escalators also provide an opportunity for the visitor to get up close to day-to-day lives of the working folk of Hong Kong.

A shop window seen from the escalators.

A shop window seen from the escalators.

The escalators when built, also served to revive some of the areas higher up which had up to then been rather inaccessible and forgotten, particularly the area that has become known as SoHo. Sharing a name with the red-light district of London’s West End, and with New York’s trendy area South of Houston Street, Hong Kong’s SoHo, in this case South of Hollywood Road, has since been transformed into a trendy nightlife hub with a cluster of cafés, restaurants and bars, as well as trendy outlets that cater to the young and upwardly mobile.

The area south of Hollywood Road along the route of the Escalator is referred to as SoHo and has been transformed by the construction of the escalators.

The area south of Hollywood Road along the route of the Escalator is referred to as SoHo and has been transformed by the construction of the escalators.

Hollywood Road.

Hollywood Road.

The SoHo area features cafes, bars, restaurants and trendy shops.

The SoHo area features cafés, bars, restaurants and trendy shops.

A trendy SoHo cafe.

A trendy SoHo café.

The Mid-Levels area that the escalators are intended is not an area that I can claim to have visited, but from descriptions that I have read of the heavenly views of Victoria Harbour the location halfway up Victoria Peak provides to its exclusive and upmarket residents, it can perhaps be described as being heaven on earth. What I did have the opportunity to visit, together with some of my fellow bloggers on the guided walk with Mr. Leon Suen (please visit the post on Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan), is perhaps a surer stairway to Heaven – the stairway that leads to the Jamia Masjid, off the escalators on Shelly Street. The mosque that we see today is built in an Indian Islamic style and is the second mosque building that has stood in its place, having been rebuilt in 1915 by a certain Essack Elias of Bombay. What is interesting is that the name of the benefactor who would probably have been a convert to Islam, is of Jewish origin, and can probably be traced back to the numerous Baghdadi Jews who settled in Bombay in the 1800s and could perhaps be linked to the Eliases of Singapore who left us Elias Road and the David Elias Building. The original mosque was apparently named the “Mohammedan Mosque” and built in 1890 and wasn’t large enough to cope with the growing Muslim population in Hong Kong.

A surer Stairway to Heaven ... the steps leading up to the Jamia Masjid, off Shelley Street.

A surer Stairway to Heaven ... the steps leading up to the Jamia Masjid, off Shelley Street.

The Jamia Masjid seen from Shelley Street.

The Jamia Masjid seen from Shelley Street.

The mosque was rebuilt in 1915 by a certain Essack Elias.

The mosque was rebuilt in 1915 by a certain Essack Elias.

Wandering around the grounds of the mosque and inside the mosque itself, one is somehow transported away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Hong Kong just down the escalators, into a world that seems so cool, calm and peaceful, and I could almost imagine myself being brought to another world (that is on a quite Monday – I am not sure if that would be the case on Fridays when I guess the compound and mosque would be teeming with Muslims coming for Friday prayers). It was a certainly a nice respite from what was an extremely hot, humid and hurried day, and should anyone be in the area and seeking a respite from the hurried pace of life around, this is certainly the place to be.

The mosque and its grounds offers a respite from the backdrop of the busy Hong Kong that surrounds it.

The mosque and its grounds offers a respite from the backdrop of the busy Hong Kong that surrounds it.

It also offered us respite from the midday sun...

It also offered us respite from the midday sun...

Views of the very tranquil Mosque and the grounds of the Mosque

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Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #3: My Love Affair with the Fragrant Harbour

By , July 30, 2010 8:50 am

The truth is, I have found this trip to HK rather challenging to blog about.

The reason is… I am not really sure I can be classified as a tourist… and the trip is sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board after all! 🙂

Prior to the trip, I asked my HK friend, “Hey, what are the attractions I should check out in HK? I am going as a tourist this time!”

My HK friend replied, “唔好讲笑啦!你係四份之一个香港人哦!” In other words, she’s saying, “Stop kidding me! You are a quarter of a Hong Konger!”

Erm, I guess she’s not wrong. I actually go to HK once a month because we have a HK branch.

Come to think about it, HK and I go a long, long way back…

My “love affair” with the fragrant harbour HK started when I was 5 years old. That was my first overseas trip, and my parents brought me to HK for a vacation. Looking at the photos, I had a blast at Ocean Park!

My first trip to HK without my parents was when I was 17 years old. And that was the first time I stayed in a HK condominium. It was indeed an eye opener! I have been told that Hong Kongers rarely would invite friends to stay in their homes. The reason is not that they are not hospitable or not friendly. The reason is because they do not have space in their homes! My friend’s place is probably quite big compared to the normal standard, but compared to my home in Malaysia (where land is not as ‘precious’ as in HK), it is really rather tiny. I remembered my friend’s kitchen… after both of us squeeze into it, there’s hardly any more space for a third person!

And finally, when I turned 28 years old, my dream of working in Hong Kong finally came true! After my numerous visits to HK where I enjoyed myself so much, I told myself, “One day, I want to work in HK!” Having quit my job in 2004, I was not too sure how I was going to fulfill this dream. The opportunity presented itself when we decided to set up a Lunch Actually branch in HK, having done our market research that there is a demand for a modern dating service in HK! And that was when I started my monthly visits to HK.

What do I love about HK you might ask…

There are so many things that I love, and here’s just among the top 5 things I love about HK!

P10402431. The Energy and The Vibrancy of the City

If there is a city that never sleeps, it has to be Hong Kong! Many shops in the shopping belt are opened till 10pm or 11pm. When you walk around Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui, you will feel like it’s 8pm when in fact it’s already 11pm! There are still lots of people walking around or out shopping! Some people find the city claustrophobic. But I love the hustle and bustle of the city. I like the fact that people go around with a sense of purpose and urgency. I expected to take 4 months to set up our HK branch, but it only took us 2.5 months, and I think a big part of it is attributed to how fast and efficient the Hong Kongers are!

2. The Cantonese Language

My mother tongue is not English, nor is it Mandarin, it is actually Cantonese! My dialect group is Hakka, but because my mum does not speak Hakka, we ended up speaking Cantonese at home. Do you know that as compared to Mandarin, Cantonese might be even more difficult to learn because Mandarin only has 4 different sounds (or some may say 5), but Cantonese has 9 different sounds! When I come to HK, I feel as if I am home… because everybody speak Cantonese! And when I connect with people in Cantonese, I just feel instantly closer to them! 🙂

3. The Tram or better known as ‘Ding Ding’ to the locals

The tram system on HK island is convenient and affordable. In fact, it’s extremely cheap! You can get from one end of the island to the other end with HKD2. Yes! That works out to 40 cents in SGD! I love to take the tram especially in the winter months. The cold wind will be blowing on your face while the tram saunters through the new and the old Hong Kong. I remember telling my friend how much I love taking the tram. And she said, “我睇你叮啲几耐!” (Let’s see how long you can take the tram!) Haha, and she’s right! Because when the summer months come by, it becomes extremely hot and humid and I do not advise you to take the tram then, unless you want to have a free sauna treat!

4. The Desserts

Hui Lau Shan Mango Dessert Drink

HK is a food paradise, no doubt about it. But more specifically, it is a desserts haven! If you are a mango lover, you have to check out 《许留山》which serves delicious mango-themed desserts! You cannot miss it because its branches are spread all across town. Another of my favourite haunts is 《满记》(Honeymoon Dessert) which has absolutely amazing durian pancakes! And if you enjoy milk-based desserts, I love the 双皮奶 (double skin milk pudding) at 《杏花楼》. I always have it when I am in HK! 🙂

5. A City of Contrast

new old contrastIf you love contrast, you will love HK. It is a city where you can have a delicious and fulfilling meal by spending either HKD30 or HKD3000. You can admire the amazing skyscrapers or enjoy the serenity of its mountains. You can go clubbing at Lan Kwai Fong or enjoy a relaxing day at the beach at Stanley. You can shop at Prada, Gucci, LVand the likes or you can hunt for a bargain at Temple Street or Ladies Market! The options and opportunities are endless and in my opinion, that is what makes this city always exciting and intriguing.

You will always think that you have it all figured out, and then it will throw you yet another surprise!

And that is why HK is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world.

What about you? What would make it to your top 5 list for Hong Kong?

夏游香江 – 香港赛龙舟嘉年华现场

By , July 30, 2010 8:39 am

为了不让我们吃腻酒店的早餐以及有机会品尝道地特色早餐,我们第三天的早餐是在香港拥有很多家分店的翠华餐厅解决。

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在众多选择之下,我点的是早餐配套:沙爹牛肉公仔面配嫩滑炒蛋与牛油猪仔,再加上驰名的奶茶。看似简单,但其实我认为越简单的菜式却是最靠主厨本领的方式。不过翠华餐厅的名声已经是如雷贯耳,尤其是奶茶更是镇店十宝之一,果然没有让我失望。本来还想趁这一趟去尝试兰芳园丝袜奶茶,看来有了这一杯下肚也稍微满足了我要在香港喝奶茶的瘾了啦。

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典型早餐文化的景象,以报纸、茶/咖啡、早餐开始完美的一天;而我们的这一天也在早餐后开始变得更精彩了。

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甫到在梳士巴利道旁尖沙咀海滨花园就可以感觉到全场热烘烘的气氛。毕竟这个历史悠久的第35届香港国际龙舟邀请赛也广邀各地的龙舟好手、媒体人员与明星来参与其盛。而 TVB 翡翠台也为这个夏日嘉年华的压轴赛事做了全场直播。

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所以在场的来宾也轻易地感染到主办当局的用心。有者盛装出席。。。

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明星的粉丝们则不顾夏日的热炎,一早就在观众席守候,只是为了一睹明星风采。

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而选手们全力以赴,不外是为了这个金龙奖杯的荣誉。

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各路英雄齐聚一堂,在香江乘风破浪前进。

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中午一点钟,媒体明星邀请赛正式举行。

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一号队伍,坐着让全场沸腾的韩国 KBS Dream Team 成员。

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很善解人意的他们为了不让焦点一直聚在他们身上,拱手让出得奖名额给其他参赛者,呵呵~但是他们还是有机会以《最受欢迎队伍》得奖者的身份登台领奖。

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*U-Kiss 的 Alexander 和 F-Cuz 的 Jinon

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*Mighty Mouth 的 Sangchu

我的天,都已经是夏日炎炎了,领奖还那么让人热血沸腾。。。真的是韩国型男风范。君不相信?来看吧。。。

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居高临下看着粉丝们包围着护送 Dream Team 的巴士,我还真的是为那位司机大叔捏一把冷汗。

而 OMY.sg 身为其中一个媒体邀请队也派了四位代表参加“划浴缸大赛”组别。哈哈,Violet(左起)、Darren、Peter 与 Geck Geck 就分成两队披甲上阵咯~

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你看看还未开始划船的 Peter 与 Geck Geck 有多么高兴,稳操胜券的样子,嘿嘿~结果呢。。。

他们不幸地翻船了 – 胜券是没握到;海水倒是喝了几口。事后讨论时大家一致赞同两位船员的体重相去太远而造成浴缸不平衡,不过还好工作效率高的救生人员及时把他们给救了起来。所以大家还是其乐融融地说。

令人雀跃万分的是 Darren 与 Violet 的组合成功划出一片天~他们绝佳的配合为他们赢得了第二名~

恭喜恭喜~

而参加另一个提高女性对乳癌醒觉的组别 “粉红龙舟队”(Pink Dragon Boat Racing)的新加坡队伍 Pink Spartans 也夺得了冠军。

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恭喜恭喜~

不过呢,我认为最值得恭喜的是。。。

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我们十位非常荣幸而被香港旅游局邀请出席的博客还有 OMY.sg 的 Alvin。以媒体身份参与这个国际赛事这种无价的经验是很难得的哟~

HK: Yee Shun Milk Company 義順牛奶公司

By , July 29, 2010 7:59 pm

Yee Shun Milk Company
After my failed dim sum hunt, I continued on to the next target on my eating list. Yee Shun Milk Company at 513 Nathan Road. This is a must-try for people who like steamed milk desserts. I had several people recommending me this.

Steamed milk with ginger juice, cold
I realise I have actually eaten here on previous trips. This time I opted for the steamed milk with ginger juice (about HK$22), the cold version. It was blessed relief after traipsing around in the summer heat! Smooth and weightless, this milk pudding was even lighter than beancurd. The sweetness and ginger flavour is much more subtle in the cold version.

Double skin milk pudding with lotus seeds, warm
I could not resist a second bowl. The “double skin” milk puddings are their signature. I took one with lotus seeds (HK$25), a hot one this time. It’s even smoother, and the sweetness comes through much more in the hot pudding than the cold one. There’s a very thin film of “skin” on top that’s barely there.

Bowls and bowls in the chiller, ready to be served
You get served really fast, because they have batches of the steamed milk ready. Here’s the chiller with the cold ones in the display window.

Desserts and Drinks Menu at Yee Shun Milk Company
Their desserts and drinks menu (along with some branch info in small Chinese text – sorry I can’t translate). They have some Hong Kong style sandwiches and food too (other side of menu).

On the whole, certainly a pleasant dessert that scores high as a comfort food. But you gotta love milk in the first place.

YEE SHUN MILK COMPANY
G/F, 513 Nathan Road,
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2374-5460

Other branches:
G/F, 506 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2591-1837

G/F, 63 Pilkem Street
Jordan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2730-2799

G/F, 246-248 Sai Yeung Choi Street South
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2393-3301

Wetland Park : Hong Kong’s Manicured Green Thumb

By , July 29, 2010 5:55 pm

An electronic ringing tone resounded persistently in the distance. It got closer and closer, I opened my eyes. It’s 7:00 am and the morning call was right on time. It was Day 2 in Hong Kong, and I’m going to the Wetland Park. I pulled the curtains open and bright sunlight immediately saturated the room. It was a glorious day to be embraced by Mother Nature!

Directions

Getting There : From Tin Shui Wai MTR Station, use Exit E and board the Light Rail nos. 705 or 706 and alight at Wetland Park Station.

I made my way there from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station, transited at Mei Foo Station to reach Tin Shui Wai Station. The whole journey to Wetland Park took me approximately 1 hr 20 mins and costs HK$22.50.

A glorious sight

Located at New Territories, the Hong Kong Wetland Park was created to preserve and study the diversity of Hong Kong’s wetlands as such natural landscapes are rapidly lost to urban developments.

The park sprawls over 60-hectres of natural swamps and indigenous vegetation and is home to many species of birds, insects and aquatic animals. It is also affiliated with Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and London’s Wetland Centre. They are kind of like hotels for migratory birds. And I reckon the Hong Kong one would be the equivalent of staying at The Mira.

Remaining patches of nature

Opening Hours : The park is closed every Tuesday (except Public Holidays). For all other days, it is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Entrance Fee : HK$30 (Adult), HK$15 (Child)

The Hong Kong Wetland park is very well-kept and encompasses a Visitor Centre, interactive exhibitions, themed galleries, a theatre, a souvenir shop, an children’s playground that even I want to play in, a fastfood restaurant (大家乐) and of course the main attraction, the wetland reserve.

Hong Kong's green lungs

There are various zones at the reserve such as the Stream Walk, Succession Walk, Mangrove Boardwalk and three Bird Hides, situated next to a fish pond, mudflat and riverside. This allows visitors to see different species of birds in their habitats. The whole morning I was there, I only saw a white heron.

Clear sign-posts points the way to the various attractions and there’re park guides (in yellow uniform) within the wetland reserve area whom you can approach for a guided tour. They come equipped with binoculars so you can get a magnified view of dragonflies, birds, lotuses, etc.

The guide who approached me was very enthusiastic in sharing information despite a basic command of the English language. The staff at Wetland Park were all very friendly and welcoming. Even when I ‘accidently’ went on the prohibited balcony area at the Visitor Centre to snap photos of the scenery, I was asked to leave politely.

Battling the sun

Hot Tips :

  • If you don’t want handbag makers to lust after your skin, be sure to cover up, protect your skin with sunblock, bring umbrella, wear a hat, neck towels, etc.
  • There’re no drinking fountains in the wetland reserve so be sure to fill up your water-bottle at the water cooler in the fastfood restaurant.
  • Always stay on the designated paths and walkways as there may be snakes or other hidden defenses of nature. A salt water crocodile was found in at the nearby Shan Pui River in 2003. It now lives in an enclosure within the park and given the name, Pui Pui. The park is safe, but do take precautions to avoid ending up as something’s lunch.

Wetland in the heartland

For me, the most striking thing about the park is its close proximity to residential developments. Views from the park looked as if it is located at some ulu faraway boondocks, but it’s closer to home than you think. Well, at least to the homes of people living there. The view up in those flats must be breathtaking.

Choose your path

As I’ve just started learning nature macro photography, one of my main purpose was to photograph wildlife species not found in Singapore. During my time at the Wetland Park, I didn’t see any animals, didn’t see many birds, and the insects were just too active to photograph.

Usually I would go really early in the morning between 7 am to 8 am to shoot the bugs because that’s when they’re just waking up and not too active yet. But Wetland Park opens at 10 am. By then, my skill and equipments are inadequate to capture them well.

My only macro shot

But what the place had no lack of was dragonflies. Lots of them around in a wide variety of colours and designs. Woohoo! Belonging to the insect order known as Odonata (which means ‘toothed jaws’ in Greek), dragonflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis as their life stages all revolve around bodies of water and are carnivorous from young to adulthood.

Dragonfly Facts :

  • They can fly forward, backward, upward, downward or sideways and preys on mosquitoes, flies, and aphids.
  • Male dragonflies frequently perch on eye-catching points to show-off their bright bodies to attract females.
  • Tropical dragonflies can live a few months up to a year, while those living in temperate climates have a lifespan averaging only one to six weeks.

Jewels of nature

Other than dragonflies, there’re also a few lotus and waterlily ponds. I saw some yellow and pink variegated lotuses for the first time and they were beautiful!

Shy lotus

Having baked under the hot sun for half a day, the air-con at the Visitor Centre was more than comforting. There, I browsed through the “Fantastic World of Insects” exhibition and visited a gallery that showcased life at the different types of wetlands – mangrove swamps, tropical rivers, and continental marshes.

The exhibits were pretty interesting with lots of info about the secret life of insects and wetland dwellers. My favourite was this very colourful tortoise. I’ve not seen anything like it ‘live’ before!

Groovy!

It was a good thing I got back to the Visitor Centre because the earlier sunny weather was replaced by a rainstorm. Since I was stuck there, I went into the theatre for a performance about insects thinking I just want to sit and rest.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the stage performance! It was funny, creative and highly educational. I really learnt a lot of insects in a fun and easy to digest manner. The only grouse was that the show was in Cantonese and I couldn’t understand some of the phrases.

Parting Shots

Overall, I find the Wetland Park a very enjoyable and educational experience. My plan was to stay there till 1:00 pm but by the time I left, it was almost 4:00 pm, being stuck in the rain notwithstanding. If I go Hong Kong again, I will definitely come back again and hopefully the next time, I’ll get more photos of bugs!

For more photos, please visit my album A Lingering Fragrance.

我的涂鸦香港行5——第二天(上)

By , July 29, 2010 5:15 pm
第二天早上7点半,带着浓浓的睡意苏醒。昨夜于Dragon-I灌下肚的酒精让我的脑袋还处于呆滞状态,一时还没能接受自己身处香港的事实。坐在床上发呆了好一会,才起身梳洗。




9点,下楼前往由日本名厨Yukio Kimijima主理的Yamm餐厅享用酒店自助早餐,又是一番的惊艳。从酒店网页悉知可以在这里吃到海南鸡饭、凯撒沙律伴炭烧虾、炒法国蜗牛伴黑毛猪、香煎鹅肝等顶级美味(口水狂流~),可惜自助早餐并不包括这些,好遗憾啊!


Yamm餐厅杂图

 来到香港,除了见识这里的风土民情,还有一个重要目的,找书。原因无他,皆因对书香有一份独特的钟爱,相较于新马两地的书局,这里的书籍种类繁多之余,且价格更为公道。虽然跌跌撞撞的从文科毕业,但我不敢自诩读书人,更算不上爱书之人。可是将书本捧在手上时的那股喜悦之情,确实是无可取代的。趁着今天的些许空档,成就了我的香港书香之行。这一切始于早餐之后。 用过美味早餐,一扫脑袋里的呆滞感,便与凌晨刚刚抵达The Mira的另一位部落客Elaine到酒店外走走。或许是因为星期六早上的关系,街上行人不多,许多店铺亦未开门营业。百般无聊之下窥见酒店对面的Miramar商场竟然有商务印书馆!(抱歉我忽视了里头的UNIQLO以及无印良品等)



位于Miramar购物中心B1的商务书局

选购了一些书本之后,时间已是接近12点,是前往用餐地点的时候了。我们在酒店大厅集合(直到这时候,全部10位部落客才算是正式在香港见了面,除了一早就不见人影,跑去和昆虫玩躲猫猫的Darren ),见过我们四天三夜香港行的“保姆”们,旋即动身前往银杏馆用餐。

身负重任的保姆们

没错,一大早不见人影的就是他

 

银杏馆位于中环歌赋街。“长者就业,丰盛耆年 Support Senior Employment, Enjoy Life Enrichment”是这家餐厅的宗旨。一踩进餐厅内,我愕然见到裡看到全部服务生都是白发苍苍的老人家﹐还以为误闯了时光隧道。好奇之下打听,方知道这餐厅是香港良心品牌﹐希望透过聘请想自力更生的年长者而为他们创造就业机会。在当前金钱挂帅,汰弱留强制度下的时代,无论哪个国家,年长者往往被视为是社会的累赘。一般人对僱用年长者,都有很多疑惑和保留,认为他们手脚慢,记忆力较差,这样的固有想法已是难以改变。但是他们往往忽略了年长者也有他们的优点,例如他们的耐性、守时、对工作投入,态度认真而严谨,在“银杏馆”用餐的这一段时间内,我亦眼见他们的服务,处处尽显细心及用心,完全没有年轻人的毛躁(把自己当成老板的侍应生我还真是见多了)。

话说回来,“银杏” 是现存种子植物中最古老的孑遗植物,寿命可达千余岁(最老的已经有3500岁,现存于中国山东日照浮来山的定林寺)。以银杏为名,即可看出他们对年长者的尊重。更值得一提的是,银杏馆创造的收入及利润,扣除成本后,全部用作服务年长者用途。取之社会,用之社会,这里正是一个良心社会的缩影。



银杏馆内,我选了B餐,牛扒

外面街道一偶

歌赋街两旁有许多很有特色的店铺

 


银杏馆 Gingko House
地址﹕中环歌赋街44号地下
网址﹕http://www.gingkohouse.org/home.html
电话﹕2545 1200

离开银杏馆时碰到了香港历史悠久的电车。这是是全球现存唯一全数采用双层电车的电车系统,1904年开始便投入服务,是香港最经济实惠的陆上交通工具。无论远近,成人单程车资为$2,小童/长者则半价。乘客除了可以投币方式缴付车资之外,更可使用八达通付款。若要游览香港老城区,电车绝对是最佳选择。

用餐后,团中四位女生参与了香港星级形象设计师黄欐尧Celia Wong的外形改造课,其余部落客则各自行动。我依旧独行,继续我的香港书香之旅。而下一站,就是香港国际书展。

在这之前通过网络了解,香港读书风气如同新马一般,亦是每况愈下。调查显示每10名港人就有3人在过去1年没有看过一本书。即使有大专以上学历,香港每10人也有近2人在过去1年没有看过一本书。这样的数据不禁让我开始担心,号称亚洲规模最大的香港国际书展,能够在这样一片文化沙漠上绽放吗?

但眼前的事实告诉我,我被那调查唬烂了…

  
香港书展于香港会议展览中心(Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre)举行,从地铁湾仔站A1出口,依照路牌就可以到达。从湾仔站出来,香港会议展览中心近在眼前,然而我却以毛毛虫蠕动般的速度前进,花了一个小时半才成功从地铁站走到书展入口!因为人实在太多了,仿佛全香港人今天都放假来这里凑热闹(事实上皮痒从马来西亚飞来人挤人凑热闹的是我自己)。而为避免阻塞,警方安排的人流路线都漫长无比,将会场附近的人行道、天桥、商业中心的走道都绕了个遍才导向书展大门,还没闻到书香就已经让我完全沉浸在汗香中,谁让现在是夏季啊!间中还看到不少人拖着行李箱——我没夸张——真的是拖着行李箱来装书。谁说香港人不看书的??!

 

看到对面天桥上的人群了吗?没看到?

这一张呢?可怕吧?更可怕的是,半个小时后我也会出现在那里

现在向他们挥手道别,我继续龟速前进

一个小时半后,终于感受到书展内的冷气,顿时觉得这一切都是值回票价的。这里各大书商云集,不愧是亚洲最大型的国际书展,设有近2000个摊位(有出席2009年马来西亚第十一届《书香》国际中文书展的朋友,可以对比一下,《书香》的展出摊位为720个),以及来自全球20多个国家和地区的500多家出版商参展。不但两岸三地的热门书都齐全,而且书价便宜,通常都在八折以下,甚至最后一天还有疯狂大甩卖(好遗憾我不是最后一天去)。只可惜时间有限,必须赶在6时45分前往中环码头集合用晚餐,只好将时间分配给商务、中华、三联、明报等主要展商,忍痛向其余商家挥手道别。个人建议,如果你有机会来到香港书展(每年都会举行),若可能就尽量早到,早起的鸟儿有虫吃,早来的人们可以用$10的特惠价(原价$25)入场。另外,记得准备一双舒适耐走的鞋子!这样,便随时可以席地而坐,把重重的书袋放下,或买份小吃,或喝杯饮料,或看书,或聊天,或在傍晚壮丽的维多利亚海景里一面惊艳一面敲打着你疲倦的腿(同时要提防路人踩到你…)。




这几间书局的摊位是我重点探查对象

由于时间紧迫,我没能在书展里多待,便匆匆赶往下一个集合地点。

就这样,香港行第二天的大半天过去了。旅行中的每一天都是生活主题的变奏,今天奏起的乐章则是书香,让我有幸濡染一身属于香港的书卷气息。晚上的活动,再续。

 


 

Where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong

By , July 29, 2010 12:40 pm

One of the must-dos for any visitor to Hong Kong is to catch the slow boat across the Victoria Harbour. The Star Ferry, aptly named as the ferry service is one of the “stars” of the fragrant harbour, connects Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories on the mainland, providing a vital link that served as the main link across Victoria Harbour before the Cross Harbour Tunnel was completed in 1972. These days, the MTR offers the most efficient means of getting across the harbour to those travelling on the public transport, and one can be whisked across in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the nine minute ferry ride (not including waiting time), or being stuck in traffic, but there is really nothing like the laid back old world experience of making the crossing in a charming green and white ferry boat.

Star Ferries at Tsim Sha Tsui Pier. One painted in festive colours for the Dragon Boat Carnival is seen with one in the traditional green and white.

Star Ferries at Tsim Sha Tsui Pier. One painted in festive colours for the Dragon Boat Carnival is seen with one in the traditional green and white.

A Star Ferry against the backdrop of Hong Kong Island.

A Star Ferry against the backdrop of Hong Kong Island.

Up the stairs to the Upper Deck at Tsim Sha Tsui. The more expensive upper deck provides good views of the harbour.

Up the stairs to the Upper Deck at Tsim Sha Tsui. The more expensive upper deck provides good views of the harbour.

Tokens can be purchased at vending machines at the pier, or if you have the exact fare, you may proceed straight to the turnstiles.

Tokens can be purchased at vending machines at the pier, or if you have the exact fare, you may proceed straight to the turnstiles.

Turnstiles at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Turnstiles at Tsim Sha Tsui.

I suppose, I can be accused of being biased in stating this, having throughout much of my life had a fascination for ships, particularly old ships, and I guess taking a ride on any ferry for that matter is something I would always make a point of doing and something that I would not tire of. The ones with some of history in them can especially be irresistible: Wiseman’s Ferry being one of them, perhaps partly for that bit of nostalgia for the river crossings of old, and the Penang Ferry being another. Ferries often provide not just a means to get across a body of water, but a means to take the sights in: the Staten Island Ferry provides an excellent vantage from which the green lady we know as Liberty can be photographed, and the ferries running across Sydney Harbour which provide an economical way to take in the sights of the Sydney’s magnificent harbour in. It is in fact the Star Ferry that offers all of that, if not much more: history, nostalgia, a means to get across the harbour, and magnificent views of the harbour and the Hong Kong’s and Tsim Sha Tsui’s spectacular skyline … and a first hand feel of how the masses of people were (and still are) moved across the harbour.

The Ferry Time Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/)

The Ferry Time Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/)

The Fare Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/). The Star Ferry provides a cheap means to take the sights of the spectacular harbour in.

The Fare Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/). The Star Ferry provides a cheap means to take the sights of the spectacular harbour in.

Indeed, the nine minute ride on the Star Ferry, which the National Geographic Traveler magazine had identified as one of 50 places of a lifetime in 1999, provides not just a means to cross the harbour which would perhaps be more efficiently traversed on the MTR, but offers an experience that is unique to Hong Kong. It is on the ferry where one can mingle with a Hong Kong rush that has slows to a standstill, forced to slow to a pace that is in keeping with the old world that the ferries seem to take one back to. It is on the ferry that tourists and locals, people from all walks of life on the move, can pause for a while, where faces are no longer faces that are blurred by motion, but faces that are to be observed.

Taking in the beautiful sights of Victoria Harbour.

Taking in the beautiful sights of Victoria Harbour.

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A team of Dragon Boaters returning to the island after the races on 25 July.

A team of Dragon Boaters returning to the island after the races on 25 July.

Based on information on the Star Ferry’s website, the ferry traces its origins to 1880 when a Parsee cook, Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala, began a ferry service across Victoria Harbour using a steamboat named the Morning Star. By 1888, the Kowloon Ferry Company as it was known as then, ran the a regular 40-minute to one-hour trip, through the day, stopping only on Mondays and on Fridays for coaling of the steamboats to be accomplished. By 1890, four single-deck Star Ferries were operating, and double deck ferries were later introduced to cope with the increasing demand. These days the service is run like clockwork utilising ferries that are very much still old world in appearance, the fleet having been built in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving visitors with a piece of Hong Kong that is very much the old Hong Kong that has survived the onslaught of the fast paced world we see today.

Sights in and around the Star Ferry and the terminal


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HK: I went out to look for dim sum, but found stinky tofu instead! Street food in Hong Kong

By , July 29, 2010 11:44 am

View from my hotel room, overlooking Kowloon Park
I really did not want to leave my comfy hotel room after we checked in. Look at the view from my window. That’s Kowloon Park, so serene and peaceful amidst the heckling bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Just made me want to relax some more. But it seemed equally criminal not to make full use of our time exploring Hong Kong, and we had a few hours before dinner. Plus, I hadn’t had lunch, although the delicious lychees from the hotel was fuel enough for the time being.

So off I went to look for Tim Ho Wan, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint with a one Michelin star rating. It’s near Yau Ma Tei, just 3 MTR stops away. The hotel is just two blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, so travelling was really easy.

Mongkok / Yau Ma Tei vicinity
I got off at Yau Ma Tei station and walked according to the map.

But I could not find it! Hey, how difficult can it be? Just look for the swarming hordes and long queues outside that famous green-worded signboard. Right? If I can find all my eating locations in Japan despite their weird address system, I should be able to find this.

I got the right street, but was distracted by the gun shops
I certainly got the street right, but there was no busy dim sum joint. Were they closed? OK, to be honest, I was probably distracted by the gun replica shops opposite. Man, these look almost real!

Oh well. I was really tired anyway, so I gave up. And given the mixed reviews on Openrice, maybe not finding Tim Ho Wan was a blessing in disguise. *sniff*  So I tell myself.

I walked around looking for an alternative lunch, taking in the busy sights of Mongkok, when suddenly I was hit by a horrific stench. Oh man, did a rubbish truck overturn nearby? Or did something die hidden somewhere it could not be removed?

When I saw the culprit, I smiled and gave a sigh of relief. It’s only stinky tofu! 臭豆腐
Big cubes of it, looking really crispy on the outside. You can ladle on as much garish-looking sauces as you want too.

SMELLY TOFU!
I’ve had this before in Singapore, but it smelt different somehow (like diarrhoea). This one didn’t seem so bad upclose, but I regret I wasn’t brave enough to try it. Next time, I will.

All kinds of skewered snacks
There are lots of deep-fried snacks everywhere. Street food in Hong Kong does share some similarity with those in Singapore – we have the same skewered delights like deep-fried squid, sausages and cuttlefish balls. But they seem to have more variety and more exotic stuff. Lots more innards, pork parts, and the famous curry fish balls (“ka lei yu tan”) that are so beloved here.

"Wo tip" pot stickers and what looks like takoyaki
The pot stickers or “guo tie” look really good – fat and juicy greasebombs! In the foreground, I think are some supersized takoyaki.

Mixed beef offal - a rolling boil
OK, there are some things that just can’t be made photogenic, no matter how tasty they are. The mixed beef offal boiling furiously with whole oranges, for example. Looks like parts of Loch Ness having an onsen.

"Kai tan zai" or egg ball waffles
The one thing I did try was the “kai tan zai” or egg ball waffles. I got this (sesame and coconut flavour) from a popular stall at Granville Road that had lots of press clippings and a perpetual queue. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. It’s nice to pluck off the “eggs” and eat them.

That’s it for street food in Hong Kong. After this, a famous Hong Kong steamed milk dessert and a really nice dinner. Stay tuned!

夏游香江 – 愉景湾(Discovery Bay)的《济民号》(The Bounty)

By , July 28, 2010 11:47 pm

住宿豪华酒店的另一个好处就是一早起来就有报纸翻。。。

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然后再到楼下享受丰富的早餐:

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呵呵。。。这是夏游香江的第二天。我随后到了南丫岛,随后才分享。现在主要是要带大家去乘搭《济民号》在香江维多利亚港口游船河。

长驻在愉景湾(Discovery Bay,一个新兴的观光景点)的《济民号》(The Bounty)是一艘仿效欧洲高桅古帆船所打造出来的旅游卖点。而承蒙香港旅游局的款待,我们与其他来自亚洲其他地方的媒体一起在傍晚时分登上这艘长42米的帆船上。傍晚上船的原因很简单,大伙儿可以一面享受船上的自助餐,一面欣赏享誉全球的维多利亚港夜景,当然也包括了每晚八点钟上演的《幻彩咏香江》灯光音乐汇演。

所以呢,大伙儿怎能不兴奋?

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*前方四位女士在中午时分参与了一个化妆“改造”课程,所以变得很亮丽了哦~

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开船后不久,大家就大快朵颐咯~

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而我则抓紧这个摄影的黄昏时段,尽量用这个千载难逢的机会捕捉在船上观望九龙的角度。

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虽然 The Bounty 摇晃幅度不大,但要在夕阳西下时手持相机(有三脚架也没用)拍夜景还是有一定的难度。

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但那不是很重要,更重要的是大家出游时聚在一起的欢乐时光。我们大家就一面吃饭、饮酒、聊天,聊得累了就靠着椅子上欣赏璀璨的夜景和《幻彩咏香江》灯光音乐汇演。在凉风习习的傍晚漂泊在香江的维多利亚港是多少旅客的梦想啊?

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至少,我是很享受的。

而如果有闲情的话,大家尽可以到底部船舱看看仿制出来的船底构造,体验一下航海的生活。

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两个小时后,扬起帆的 The Bounty 把我们带回尖沙咀的天星码头。也是第一次感觉到被那么多岸上的游客注视、被相机闪光灯闪烁的一次。

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谢谢香港旅游局安排的这个 The Bounty 航程,真的是让大家尽享海港美景的一次体验。

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