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!

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