Hong Kong on my Mind!

By Jerome, August 29, 2010 12:01 pm


Lasting impressions of the Fragrant Harbour

On the evidence of the four activity packed and fun filled days in Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), there is much to see and discover of Hong Kong. Four days certainly isn’t by any means enough and what it has left me with is a desire to return to the Fragrant Harbour for more journeys of discovery. The four days has certainly left me with much to savour: flavours of old and new that seem to complement rather than contradict in not just the cuisine, but in much of the culture and traditions, as well as in many of the day-to-day goings-on. That the trip has left me a lasting impression of Hong Kong there is no doubt. Along with this, there are many new perspectives that I have gained on places that I have previously visited, as well as the perspectives on a Hong Kong that has a memory of its past very much in how life goes on in the present, of which I have some very lasting impressions of:

Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents.

Food, Glorious Food!

Wonderful Sights,

Hong Kong Very Much as it is.



Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents!

When Pete just couldn’t keep himself dry sharing a bath tub with a model!

Mixing up bath tubs and dragon boats doesn’t always work out, as Pete and Geck Geck were to find out.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

Alexander seemed like the most popular guy in Hong Kong, much to Pete’s disappointment!

The one mighty scream for Alexander.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

More on the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival.

An overview of Day 3 and the Dragon Boat Races.



Food, Glorious Food!

Paddling Away to a Delightful Robatayaki Treat at busy suzie.

A wonderful treat to a fantastic dining experience and Robatayaki cuisine in the ambience of a circular restaurant in 1881 Heritage.

Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan cuisine at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant.

A restaurant that built a reputation on the old money of Hong Kong which serves delightful Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan dishes.

The Delectable Treats on offer in a Private Kitchen.

The delectable world of Margaret Xu, a former advertising agency owner who has decided to treat Hong Kong to her wonderful skills in behind the stove in her three table private kitchen in which she offers vegetables straight from her organic farm.

A French-Italian Restaurant Run for Charitable Causes.

Gingko House, a restaurant in Central in which you could be transported by the strains of La Vie en Rose playing in the background to the streets of Paris. The restaurant was started by social workers providing employment to the elderly as well as channelling its proceeds towards charitable causes.



Wonderful Sights.

The Wonderland that is the Mira.

The gorgeous world that you enter through the doors of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The Market at Nelson Street.

Wanderings around Nelson Street in Mongkok.

A visual treat of Colour, Light and Texture.

The celebration of colour, light and texture on the streets of Hong Kong.

Sights of Victoria Harbour on Board a Replica of the Bounty.

Why there would have certainly been a mutiny on this Bounty.

In between Imagination & Reality.

A really interesting sculpture exhibition “In between Imagination & Reality” that was going on at the Atrium in Times Square featuring sculptures from two of Korea’s renowned contemporary sculptors, Yong Ho Ji and Hwan Kwon Yi which runs up to 22 August 2010. What caught my eyes were the sculptures of Yi, whose sculptures are made in distorted proportions that play on one’s mind in a way that it serves to confuse and confound what the mind makes out of what the eye sees.

The Amazing “Scarefolding” of Hong Kong.

An old practice still evry much in use in Hong Kong that is perhaps reminiscent of that in Singapore when I was growing up. It is something that one sees everywhere, being particularly hard to miss on the busy streets … bamboo scaffolding. This very old method of erecting scaffolding is used in much of the construction activity going on around Hong Kong, as well as in maintenance work on the exteriors of buildings and on the signboards that stick out from the buildings.


Hong Kong Very Much as it is.

All That Glitters!

Hong Kong at its most glitzy, where labels having made their mark in the western capitals have found not just a home, but have become an inseparable part of the heart and soul of what Hong Kong is.

The Young and Trendy Hong Kong.

Granville Road and Granville Circuit – where some delightful treats await the young and trendy shopper.

Echoes of the Sheung Wan of the 1960s: Wing Lee Street and the ladder streets.

The walk along the staircases and terraces of Sheung Wan around the area where Wing Lee Street, a terrace that was made famous by Alex Law’s award winning movie 歲月神偷, or “Time, the thief” is (The movie is named “Echoes of the Rainbow” in English, a reference to the double rainbow that features in a scene in the movie). The walk took us back to a time to the Sheung Wan of the 1960s.

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

The Mid-Levels area that the escalators to the heavenly views of Victoria Harbour the location halfway up Victoria Peak provides to its exclusive and upmarket residents. This provides another stairway to a surer path to Heaven – the stairway that leads to the Jamia Masjid.

The Star Ferry.

The Star Ferry, where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong.

The Tram.

The must ride on trams on Hong Kong Island.


Gimme that Bling Thing!

By Jerome, August 24, 2010 11:30 am

One of the delightful things about Hong Kong is that there are many surprises that await as one wanders through the maze of streets and back alleys. There is much to savour, from the sights and sounds presented by the colourful streets, to the sumptous smells wafting out of the many eating places, and also to the many tempting objects on offer at the glittering retail outlets all around. There is quite an interesting mix of just about anything one may desire in the many shops, from items of luxury to items that would appeal to the young and trendy. It is in the latter that Hong Kong does offer a host of surprises. Chic is not just everywhere and anywhere. It is in many ways a way of life in some of the more interesting streets of Hong Kong.

Shops that surprise are very much in evidence on the streets of Hong Kong.

A fashion outlet with a South Asian theme in Central being one.

One such area where there is a concentration of hip, is in Tsim Sha Tsui. Nestled in what appears to be a back lane off an area which had once been associated with the affordable fashion of the many factory outlets that once dominated the area, Granville Road, Granville Circuit offers just about anything the young and trendy could desire … and at prices are not far off from what one might have expected at the factory outlets that had once dominated the area.

A large concentration of trendy outlets and lots of Bling Bling ones can be found around Granville Road and Granville Circuit.


Scenes along Granville Road. The shops offer a little more than the lingerie shops that seem to dominate the road.

Walking along Granville Road, the countless lingerie shops as well as what is apparently one of Hong Kong’s most haunted buildings, may serve as a distraction, and one could be forgiven for thinking that by turning off the main street to Granville Circuit, one would be led to a seedy back alley. At first glance, it did resemble one of the back streets of London’s Soho. Walking down the street, the illuminations provided by the bright neon signs of an entertainment outlet that one might associate with London’s Soho, casts a glow on a row of shops to be discovered – there are many little boutiques and outlets for the young: clothes, shoes, accessories, and lots of bling things that have hip written all over them. That apparently I was to find, was only the tip of the iceberg. Much more of these were to be discovered in a nondescript and somewhat tired looking shopping arcade off Granville Circuit, the Rise Shopping Arcade. Walking through the somewhat run down entrance, one is seemingly transported into a time warp. The shopping arcade looking as if it would have been more at home in the 1960s and 1970s, than something that exists in the 21st Century. But the archaic looking entrance and stairwell had masked what had awaited … taking the escalator up to the three floors of small outlets, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer quantity of small but very hip outlets, each independently run by the many young and aspiring designers that have populated the shopping arcade.



Set amongst the back lanes off Granville Road, Granville Circuit is a mecca of street fashion waiting to be discovered.

Granville Circuit offers a glimpse into the hip in fashion on the streets of Hong Kong ...

The lights of an entertainment outlet being reflected off a windscreen on Granville Circuit. Set amongst some rather dark alleyways that perhaps resemble the back streets of London

Shop fronts on Granville Circuit ...


More shops on Granville Circuit.

Geck Geck spent hours browsing through the shops along Granville Circuit and in the Rise Shopping Arcade.

The glitter on Granville Circuit is in a rather old shopping arcade named Rise.

Stepping into the Rise Shopping Arcade transports one back in time ...

For some of the younger and more trendy, Geck Geck being one, wandering around Granville Circuit and Rise, offered hours of wonderment (those who accompanied her would testify to that). Rise had also offered some of the more mature something as well – very bling bling silver pieces that caught the eye of not just Catherine, but also Pete, who wanted to get his wife a pair of earings (how sweet!). For me, not be terribly into bling, wandering around offered me an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity, and perhaps to discover what Hong Kong has in store for the young, chic and bling.

Even Pete was taken by some of the bling things on offer.

Another view inside Rise Shopping Arcade.


On the Rise, inside the Rise ...

The lights in the shops in the Rise and along Granville Circuit, I was told, remain on well into the wee hours of the morning ...

Even mum knows who Alexander is!

By Jerome, August 21, 2010 8:50 am

Caught up in the screams of anticipation that emanated from the sea of adolescent girls gathered at the Urban Council Centenary Garden, as we got through to the cordoned media area for the opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, some of us might be forgiven for thinking we might have been the object at which the screams were directed at. Admittedly, there were some of us who did feel like stars – one of us in particular, as we would soon discover, certainly had that a penchant for media attention, revealing the lengths that he would go to get the attention of the media during the now infamous bath tub race. The numerous placards being held up by the screaming girls with the words “U-KISS” might also have given some the idea that the screaming fans were asking for a kiss from whomever they were directing their screams to.

Arriving to the screams of excited adolescent girls at the 2010 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, some of us might have thought we were amongst HK's hottest!

It might not have been hard to be under the impression that the crowds of adolescent girls had gathered to welcome us ...

... and perhaps even wanting to kiss some of us!

Unfortunately for those of us who might have harboured such thoughts, the overwhelming evidence provided by the numerous placards bearing the name Alexander or Xander was that most of the screaming girls were clamouring for a certain person with that name. Without any inkling as to whom this Xander might be, I somehow felt a little lost in the sea of teenagers as the opening ceremony began with a bang – literally, with the beating of drums. With the opening ceremony out of the way, a concert followed. The cantopop duo that appeared on stage did not provide any clues as to who the mysterious Xander might be. I had somehow anticipated that we would have two men on stage, but one of the duo, Sherman actually turned out to be quite a pretty lady, which for a moment, did cast some doubts as to the gender of this certain Xander. But I guess, the make-up of the adoring fans erased those doubts almost immediately ….

What was apparent was that most were actually there to greet a certain Alexander ...

or Xander, in short ...

I had expected Sherman on the basis of the name to be of a different gender ...

but Sherman Chung turned out to be quite a pretty lady ....

and with quite a silky voice too ...

After quite a lengthy routine from the talented Sherman, the burst of euphoric and excited screams announced that the long awaited moment had arrived! Out pops this slim guy with handsomely boyish features who was introduced as a member of what was apparently a Korean boy band U-KISS. This was the Alexander or Xander that was the main object of the excitement that we had been caught up in. Well, at that point, even with the appearance of Xander, I still wasn’t very enlightened. Xander somehow didn’t look quite Korean or for that matter someone who would be delivering his opening lines in fluent Cantonese!


The frenzy that accompanied Alexander's appearance.

Alexander finally makes an appearance ... and ...

... it was only after the introduction that I found out that he was a member of a Korean boy band, U-KISS.

He certainly seemed to be the most popular with the crowd ...

Each move was accompanied by loud excited screams from the crowd.

Scream!

Scream!

More screams!!!

The cameras were doing overtime ...

as those with the pointy things sought the highest points to catch a good shot of Alexander ....

More screams yet!

... even the appearance of other Korean members of the Dream Team didn't take attention away from Alexander!

With only the pretty Sherman taking some of the spotlight away from Alexander.

The crowds of girls were out for the one and only Alexander!

It was only much later that I was able to gain more information on U-KISS and Alexander, and I was to discover that his linguistic ability was aided by a mixed parentage, apparently having a Chinese-Portuguese father and a Korean mother, and him spending his childhood in Macau and Hong Kong. I guess, not being one who keeps tabs on Korean boy bands, I could be excused for my ignorance, but I was to discover that U-KISS and Alexander had a following in Singapore as well, and even my mother who turns 70 this year, perhaps from her being an avid fan of Korean television, could provide all that I might have wanted to know not just about U-KISS and Alexander, but on some of the other mysterious markings on some of the placards such as 2PM, 2AM and FCuz!

Alexander made an appearance at the Dragon Boat races as well.


And was all smiles as part of the KBS Dream Team that won the Most Eye Catching Award.

The signs are out on the streets of Hong Kong!

By Jerome, August 18, 2010 9:00 am

One of the things that never fails to catch my attention wherever I am, are signs, posters and banners. Signs, posters and banners can often provide a perspective on a place beyond the sights and certainly beyond what the guidebooks tell you. They can sometimes show the lighter side of a place, or can be just plain fun to look at. Hong Kong I guess provides that as well. There is in Hong Kong, without any about, an abundance of signs that certainly won’t fail to catch one’s attention. But beyond that, there is much more to see and look at from the perspective of the signs that perhaps show some of the lighter side of Hong Kong, those that make Hong Kong, Hong Kong, and those that seem to be everywhere in the non-English speaking world … signs with English translations that somehow go wrong …

Hong Kong certainly has no shortage of signs to look at!

On the lighter side …

The lighter side of Hong Kong seen on a poster.

A burger shop on the obviously naughtier side of town.

I don't quite believe that this is an effective deterrent!

This is one that has to be left to the imagination!

Acceptable bullying: Bully your stains away with Bully stain removing detergent!

Lost in translation …

Translations to English that somehow go wrong are very much in evidence.

The vehicle will have its day in court!

Life in Hong Kong …

It does look that Hong Kong is as much a "fine city" as Singapore is!

A city that never sleeps especially when it comes to construction and improvement activity.

Certain to have attention drawn to it. A bin for dog poo stands out in the shadows. There also seems to be as much a dependence on foreign domestic help as there is in Singapore.

It's a dog's life! The dogs certainly have it in Hong Kong!

A bus route through a narrow alleyway between old buildings.

The advanced and wired-up society that Hong Kong very much is today: WiFi on the buses!

The creative side of Hong Kong in a shop's sign!

I am always amazed by the creativity in first names that Hong Kong has: a very "faddy" name indeed!

Even the signs we normally see in plastic has an upmarket feel in the very upmarket 1881 Heritage.

A unfortunate combination of signs: Beware! Buying fresh meat might lead you down a slippery slope!

Signs are ignored as much as they are in Singapore!

Rats! Rat poison is used extensively on the streets.

The celebration of light, colour and texture that is Hong Kong

By Jerome, August 13, 2010 8:59 am

Besides the wonderful itinerary put up by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), and the fabulous company provided by the nine very interesting bloggers, the three members of the omy team, and the HKTB representatives, what I really enjoyed about the recent trip with I made to Hong Kong was the treat that Hong Kong provided from a sensory perspective. Hong Kong I guess is one of the places where the joie de vivre is celebrated with an unabashed gusto, and the evidence of that is out there on the streets coming out in a joyous feast of light, colour and texture. You will find it on its streets, crowded with a daily rush of humanity; in its glow of neon, casting a gaudy radiance in the evening light; in the busy cafés and restaurants that offer a luscious menu to satisfy the taste buds; in the glittering shops filled with anything the heart might desire … it is indeed everywhere around, put on the huge platter that is Hong Kong to nourish our senses in a most delightful way. It was certainly a joy for me to wander around to savour and revel in what was all around me, and for me, it was perhaps the icing on the cake for what had been a thoroughly enjoyable experience in the Fragrant Harbour.

Colour and Light

Changing hues of a shop front in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Passageway in the Mira Hotel.

Wine rack at Yamm as seen from the lobby of the Mira Hotel.

Yin and Yang, Light and Darkness at Yin Yang in Wan Chai.

Incandescent glows

Paper lamps in a private room in busy suzie.

A Japanese Restaurant along Nathan Road.

A bamboo panel at busy suzie.

Wall decoration at the Mira Hotel entrance.

Lamps in a trendy furniture shop in Wan Chai.

Elemental textures

Extrusions at a hardware store.

Reflection of steel on a glass façade.

A stone wall in Tsim Sha Tsui.

A collapsible metal gate in SoHo.

Plastic hoses used in a shop's signboard in Central.

Movable lead type at the Wai Che Printing Co. in Wing Lee Street.

Close-up of wooden rack at Wai Che Printing Co.

Earthly hues

Green vegetables on display at Nelson Street market.

Bitter gourd on display at Nelson Street market.

Green chillies at Yin Yang.

Dough fritters at Nelson Street.

Feet of salt baked chicken outside a restaurant near Nelson Street.

Dim sum steamers on Argyle Street.

The joy of just about anything

Security passes at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival.

Plastic tubing being loaded onto a truck.

Tree roots exerting a tight grip on a wall on the slopes of Sheung Wan.

Another stairway to heaven ... the heavenly delights that await in the dining room of Yin Yang.

A maze made out of hedges in Kowloon Park as seen from the window of the hotel room.

Incense coils at the Man Mo temple.

The amazing “scarefolding” of Hong Kong

By Jerome, August 10, 2010 8:30 am

One of the observations I made during the trip to Hong Kong is that it is a city that is very much in transformation as the new replaces the old at a relentless pace. I suppose that this isn’t very different from where we are in Singapore, where very much the same is happening. As is the case with Singapore, this change does sometimes take place at too rapidly for most to realise all too late that old and familiar places have suddenly vanished. What is certainly nice to see in Hong Kong is that there have been some attempts to retain some of the delightful older places, Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan being one of them. This certainly provides the visitor to Hong Kong with an opportunity to have an experience of the Hong Kong that most don’t know about, a Hong Kong beyond colourful streets, towering skyscrapers, glorious food and limitless opportunities for shopping.

Much of Hong Kong is very much work in progress.

Construction activity is everywhere in Hong Kong.

A reflection of Hong Kong ... a reflection of the older buildings that would be replaced with the new that they are being reflected off.

Amidst all the construction activity, there is actually another bit of old Hong Kong that probably catches the eye … an old practice that is perhaps reminiscent of that in Singapore when I was growing up. It is something that one sees everywhere, being particularly hard to miss on the busy streets … bamboo scaffolding. This very old method of erecting scaffolding is used in much of the construction activity going on around Hong Kong, as well as in maintenance work on the exteriors of buildings and on the signboards that stick out from the buildings. These are also used in the construction of skyscrapers – something that seems unimaginable when observing the somewhat slow and primitive practice of scaffolding erection in which every joint is tied with a piece of twine, that seems out of place next to a modern skyscraper. Looking at how it is done, reminded me of a similar method of erecting scaffolding employed in Singapore when I was growing up. Back then, we used wooden poles which seems a lot sturdier than bamboo somehow, but tied using rattan twine in very much the same way. I distinctly remember how this type of scaffolding went up on the exterior of the block of flats that I lived in (all 20 floors of it) for a fresh coat of paint in the dressing up that was done for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, having observed the men at work. Being the mischievous boy that I was, I even attempted to climb over from the parapet to the scaffolding on one of the lower floors, losing my nerve as I was about to. I did manage an attempt at climbing up on it from the ground floor though, managing to get up one floor before deciding that it was a little too “scary” for me to attempt getting any higher. I would refer to the scaffolding as “scarefolding” then and I couldn’t see how anyone would want to work on them perched twenty floors up, let alone try to put them up and always thought that the painters and scaffolding workers must have been fearless.

Bamboo poles lying on the streets are a common sight. These are used to erect scaffolding seen at the far end of the stack of poles.

Bamboo scaffolding is used for maintenance and construction everywhere.

A scaffolding worker tying a bamboo pole with twine seen from the Mid Level Escalators.

While the use and erection of bamboo scaffolding is amazing in itself, there is something else that one will definitely not miss that is equally amazing: scaffolding that overhangs over a street, sometimes extending out to lengths seem to defy the laws of physics, and sometimes only barely clearing the tops of vehicles passing on the busy street below them! Most of these I guess would be for erecting and maintaining the many neon signboards jutting out from the buildings above the streets. It must really be a feat putting these up … and, it probably has to take nerves of steel to be perched on one of these extended some seven or eight metres out over a busy street!

One won't miss the amazing sight of scaffolding that seem to defy the laws of physics extending out from the buildings. It must be quite a feat to put these up!

Another example of scaffolding that seem to defy the laws of physics.

These sometimes barely clear the tops of high vehicles passing under them.

The delectable world of Margaret Xu

By Jerome, August 8, 2010 8:30 am

I guess what must have been the highlight of the trip out of the four days of fun and adventure the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had lined up must have been the experience at Yin Yang, which I have made a brief mention of in a previous post and which deserves a little more attention.

Yin Yang is a three table private kitchen run by celebrity chef Margaret Xu.

The setting for Yin Yang, a three table private kitchen, is a delightful four storey shop house of 1930s vintage in the Wan Chai district, which has been well restored and beautifully decorated shop house. Entering the shop house, one is greeted by reminders of a simple and bygone era: a tiffin carrier, an old refrigerator, an old style thermos flask … that in the soft light that filters through the old style frosted windows and grills, provides the ideal setting for what Xu attempts to create in her kitchen. It is in creating what is a fusion of the old cuisines of Hong Kong, which Xu goes back to basics.

The setting for Yin Yang is a four storey beautifully restored 1930s shop house in Wan Chai. A model of which is seen here.

The old style decor of the restored shop house provides an excellent setting for what follows up the staircase to the third floor where the dining room is.

The old world charm of Yin Yang is seen in the many simple objects that Xu decorates the interior of the restored building with.

An old styled thermos flask ...

An old tiffin carrier.

Old style windows and grills through which soft light filters through ... creating an ambiance which adds to the flavours of Xu’s creations.

Grills that are perhaps a reflection of the food that Margaret Xu prepares ... a fusion of old styles ...

Another delightful old style window and grill ...

An old refrigerator.

It is perhaps the simple and traditional ways that Xu uses to good effect that defines what Yin Yang is. Old and simple preparation and cooking methods are used by Xu, simple perhaps not by the effort put into the preparation, but by the means in which preparation is done, as it was in the good old ways of food preparation. Yin Yang’s signature dish, “Yellow Earth” chicken is roasted slowly in a clay oven that Xu designed herself, fashioned out of two upturned terracotta pots. The chicken we had, moist and full of flavour from the slow roasting, with a beautifully browned crispy skin, was not craved with a knife, but torn and shredded on the spot and served. The menu was selected by Xu herself, who attempts to surprise her guests with her charming creations as was seen in the other dishes that were served, each equally delightful and full of flavour. The roasted pork leg which followed a shellfish dish also deserves mention, the rich flavours of roasted pork with a crackling crispy skin, was made all the more flavourful with a lychee sauce that had the sweetness of fresh lychees in it. Throughout the entire meal, we were certainly treated to food that was prepared with the dedication and care of a chef who takes great pride and delight in the way she cooks.

The specially designed oven that the "Yellow Earth" chicken is roasted in.

At Yin Yang, knives are not used to carve meat. Meat is torn and shredded in the traditonal way.


The menu that Margaret Xu selected for us.

For all that, I was certainlty surprised to learn that Ms. Xu wasn’t always a chef, or even been formally trained as one: Xu had until a few years back, run her own advertising agency. With a lot of imagination and schooled by her Hakka neighbour, and the mainly Hakka rural villages she frequented, Xu learnt how to prepare traditional food in the traditional way. I guess what defines her and how she cooks is summed up in an article about her in Theme, in which we are told that Xu “grew up loving the Chinese wet market behind her childhood home”, and “instead of lunch money, her parents gave her money to go shopping to cook for herself when they were away”. These days it is not so much the market where Xu hand picks her ingredients from. The vegetables that she uses are 100% organic and come from her very own organic farm.

And there was dessert of course!

Was this Darren wanting seconds?

Beer accompanied the meal ...

and soft drinks ...

After the wonderful meal, there was still time for Xu to share a treat to a few of us who opted to stay behind … how to make a simple green chilli sauce. The sauce was made from a generous helping of fresh green chillies, hand picked from Xu’s organic farm of course, together with fresh ginger and spring onions, which were washed and duly chopped up with some of Darren’s help. The vegetables were then fried in a wok with a generous amount of vegetable oil until they were soft. Salt was added and mixed in, before the vegetables were removed and then transferred into a blender. The mixture was then blended and … voilà! There we had it … a spicy tangy tasting pesto like paste, which our food blogger Catherine of Camemberu tells us goes very well which Chicken Rice … and perhaps as a dip. The warm mixture was then put into little jars which each of us were given a piece to bring home with us.

The main ingredients of the green chilli sauce: Green Chillies, Spring Onions and Fresh Ginger - all from Xu' organic farm.

Preparation of the green chilli sauce includes chopping the spring onions, ginger and chillies.

Darren had a hand in the sauce preparation.

The wok is heated up.

Vegetable oil is added ...

Level of oil in the wok.

Is the oil hot enough?

The ingredients are added and fried.

Salt is added.

Once the vegetables have softened and before they turned yellow they are removed from the wok.

and blended into a puree ...

and there we have it ... a tasty spicily tangy pesto like paste which goes well as a dip ...

... which we each had a jar of to take home with us.

And before we knew it, it was time to reluctantly say good-bye …

By Jerome, August 6, 2010 6:30 pm

Having had a great time in Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and omy.sg, and having made some wonderful friends over the previous three days, the final day came all too quickly, and it was time to bid the Fragrant Harbour goodbye. All I guess were busy in the morning trying to stuff whatever shopping they had done into their bags, and when the time came to say a sad goodbye to the fabulous hotel room at 9.30 am, most of us had made it down to the glorious lobby of the hotel with bulging bags, which we soon loaded into the bus that was to ferry us around that day. Once on the bus, the ever amusing Aussie Pete, gave us an account of his shopping exploits at Harbour City Shopping Mall, and how he had managed to fill his very large and what had been an almost empty suitcase, even getting a toy dog that his son had wanted (isn’t that sweet?). That I can tell you is no mean feat, having not had much time to do any form of serious shopping, with the activity packed programme that the HKTB had lined up for us over the previous three days!

Pete started our morning with the story of how he managed to fulfill the big shopping task his wife had set him.

Evidence of Pete's shopping exploits.

The day’s programme started with breakfast at a congee restaurant that is apparently on list of recommended local restaurants in Michelin Guide, Law Fu Kee on Des Voeux Road. The word is that the chef has been dutifully gotten up at 3 am everyday for the last 50 years to prepare his highly rated concoction of Thai rice, crushed preserved eggs and fish bones that many crave. I myself, not being fond of congee, opted for a plate of beef brisket noodles, after which I was ready for what was to prove a very interesting walk around SoHo and Sheung Wan with Mr Leon Suen, which I have mentioned in two previous posts.

The day's programme started with breakfast at Law Fu Kee on Des Voeux Road in Central.

Law Fu Kee is highly rated for its congee which has been prepared in the same way for 50 years.

After the walk which ended at the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, it was time for lunch at the Yin Yang, a private kitchen with three tables housed in a historic building of 1930s vintage in the Wan Chai area, run by celebrity chef Margaret Xu. Xu had given up a job at an advertising firm to run the kitchen and an organic farm on which most of the fresh produce used in the kitchen comes from. The exclusive kitchen, known for its signature dish of “Yellow Earth” chicken which is roasted in an earthern oven designed by Xu herself, hosts up to 30 people and each sitting features a menu that is hand picked by Xu herself, which can cost around HKD 700 per person. I guess this and the sauce making session conducted by Xu herself that followed deserves another post and that I guess is what I would just do.

Yin Yang is a private kitchen housed in a historic building on Ship Street.

The historic building dates back to the 1930s.

Yin Yang's signature dish: "Yellow Earth" Chicken

The specially designed oven that the "Yellow Earth" chicken is roasted in.

We had a Blue Girl at the table.

Celebrity chef Margaret Xu later conducted a sauce making session for some of the bloggers.

Margaret's sauce making demonstration was very intently followed by the bloggers who attended the session.

Margaret Xu demonstrated how to turn this mixture of green chillies, spring onions, ginger and oil from this ....

... to this tangy tasting pesto like paste ...

... which Pete seemed to like ...

We each had a bottle to take home with us.

When the session came to an end, we had a chance to taste the tangy green chilli sauce that Margaret had shown us how to make, which had perhaps the consistency of pesto, of which Pete seemed to enjoy the most. We were each given a bottle of the green sauce which Catherine Ling of Camemberu fame mentioned goes well with Chicken Rice. With that, it was almost time for a sad goodbye to what had been a really enjoyable trip, made better by the company of the friends we had all made on the trip, including the members of the HKTB team, the omy team, and my fellow bloggers, as well as that of the excellent hospitality we all had been shown by the HKTB. After a quick look around the area, during which I had a quick glance at the Hung Shing temple on Queen’s Road East, which was constructed in 1847 and at the time of its construction was by the sea, it was time to board the bus for the airport and say goodbye to some of those who had opted to stay behind. With that, what certainly had been one of the most enjoyable trips I have made, came to an end.

A last look around: Hung Shing Temple (1847) on Queen's Road East.

An annex to the Hung Shing temple, a Kwan Yum temple was added in 1867.

Queen's Road East in Wan Chai.

Darren completing formalities, before we said goodbye ...

A lasting last impression of Hong Kong ... a city that reaches out for the skies in many ways.

Time to say goodbye.

All settled for the final journey to the airport.

In between Imagination & Reality in Causeway Bay

By Jerome, August 5, 2010 1:00 pm

While wandering around the busy Causeway Bay area on the second day of my Hong Kong adventure with Aussie Pete, we stumbled upon a really interesting sculpture exhibition “In between Imagination & Reality” going on at the Atrium in Times Square featuring sculptures from two of Korea’s renowned contemporary sculptors, Yong Ho Ji and Hwan Kwon Yi which runs up to 22 August 2010. What caught our eyes were the sculptures of Yi, whose sculptures are made in distorted proportions that play on one’s mind in a way that it serves to confuse and confound what the mind makes out of what the eye sees. It was really hard to describe how “disturbed” we felt from looking at the sculptures and this is something you have to see in three dimensions rather than in two dimensional images to have the feel of it. I guess the best way that can describe how viewing the sculptures affect one’s mind is how the NUS in Singapore had described Yi’s works in an introduction made to an exhibition held last year: “the affect of art lies not so much in the poses but rather in the compression of distance, space and time in Yi’s world”.

The distorted proportions of Hwan Kwon Yi's sculptures (sometimes in all three dimensions) play on what the mind makes out of the eye sees and serves to confuse and confound one's mind.

The "In between Imagination & Reality" exhibition runs up to 22 August 2010 in the Atrium Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

The disproportionate sculptures caught the attention of curious shoppers at Times Square.

There would certainly have been a mutiny on this Bounty …

By Jerome, August 3, 2010 10:00 am

One of the many things that I looked forward to on this Hong Kong trip was the chance to board the Bounty, a tall ship which is in fact, a replica of the Bounty, infamous for the mutiny led by a certain Fletcher Christian. The mutiny which would have been construed as an act of disobedience not just against the authority of the ship’s commanding officer, Captain William Bligh, but also an act against the Crown, resulted in some of the surviving mutineers setting up a settlement on hitherto uninhabited Pitcairn Island and setting the original Bounty aflame to escape detection. By this unintended twist of fate, the group of islands that Pitcairn is in, has somehow become Britain’s last surviving colony in the Pacific. While we were certainly not in for this level of heart stopping excitement on the present replica of 1978 vintage (in fact this is the second replica built), it was for me, still something to look forward to, as I would do for any opportunity to visit a tall ship.

The Bounty, a second replica of the original, seen in full sail in Victoria Harbour (image courtesy of Hong Kong Resort Company Limited)

Tall ships are one of those things that I have always approached with the awe and fascination of a child. Captivated by the magnificent sight of tall ships in full sail from images seen in photographs and in the movies, and in part, drawn to the silhouette of a brig in the Old Spice brand of men’s toiletries that were popular back when I was growing up, I have long hoped to be able to sail on one, and work her sails. I guess the opportunity somehow never presented itself, and so, the next best thing for me was to attempt to visit one whenever I could. I managed a visit to one earlier this year, when the fastest tall ship, the STS Pallada, a Russian merchantmen training ship called to port in Singapore, and so it was very nice that I have a second opportunity this year, not just to board one, but also stay on her for a cruise around Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, albeit not with sails for practical reasons, but by her diesel power.

The figurehead of the new Bounty (image courtesy of the Hong Kong Resort Company Limited).

This replica of the Bounty that is in Hong Kong, was built in New Zealand in 1978 for the movie “The Bounty”, which starred Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins and was released in 1983. This would have been the same ship I had wanted to go onboard during a visit to Sydney some years back, but not having had the time, decided to give it a miss. This Bounty has, since 2007, been in the service of the Hong Kong Resort Company Limited, a company which operates the Discovery Bay Resort on Lantau Island at which the Bounty is based.

The bounty coming in to Central Pier 9 as the sun sets on Hong Kong.

A close-up of the stern.

The replica is not constructed of wood as one might think, being constructed of steel and clad in wood to give an authentic feel. While not as imposing as the Pallada which has a 49.5 metre tall main mast and measures some 106 metres (sparred), the 42 metre replica does have a spacious deck which measures 30 metres in length and 7 metres in width, and in the shadow of the rigging of the main mast which towers some 33 metres above deck, and the two other masts, the visitor is offered a very unique experience onboard. This makes the Bounty an ideal location for the use for which she has been put to. The Bounty is in fact available for charter for events such as corporate entertainment, private functions, harbour cruises, training activities etc, for which information is available at the Bounty’s website.

The main mast of the Bounty rises some 33 metres above deck.

The main mast holding its own against the IFC tower in the background.

The dinner cruise we had boarded the Bounty for, started from Central Pier 9, and it was a treat to stand by the wharf side and watch the magnificent vessel come in. Assisted onboard by the helpful crew, we were greeted by the sight of the expansive sheathed wooden deck, and the web of ropes and tackle along the gunwale that ran up to the masts. This, along with authentic looking fittings on deck as well as cannons lined up along the ship’s sides added a feel that we were going to have an adventure on the high seas, as it might have been for Fletcher Christian and his shipmates, sans the uncomfortable motions that might have come with the wind and the waves that in all probability have accompanied the voyage.

Blocks and tackle by the gunwale.

More rigging and tackle ...

While we may not have sailed the seven seas, the cruise around the harbour wasn’t without exotic sights. There were four to begin with, the lovely ladies in our group, who had a makeover with Celia Wong, a well known Hong Kong based stylist. While this would probably not have sparked a mutiny today, this would certainly have sparked a mutiny of a different kind in the days of Christian and Bligh, and might in all probability, have not just those loyal to Captain Bligh, but the Captain himself, join the mutineers! I guess with the company of pretty ladies, the spectacular night time views of the famous Hong Kong and Kowloon skyline, and the treat of the Symphony of Lights, was an added bonus.

Three of the four lovely ladies who might have set off a mutiny ... from left to right: Gin Oh, Violet Lim, Elaine Chua.

and here's the fourth ... Ms Ang Geck Geck ...


The company of the four lovely ladies was complemented by the magnificent views of Hong Kong and Kowloon from the harbour.

Dining on the deck was certainly a very pleasant experience. The light breeze that accompanied the cruising vessel which charted a course around the harbour made what was a balmy evening very pleasing and enjoyable. We had an opportunity to also inspect the accommodation below decks in the forward mess. An attempt has also been made to recreate the living spaces where perhaps the senior rates might have lived in. Going down through the hatch and stairway, it is probably hard to imagine conditions that may have existed on the actual ship where there would have been men tired and worn from their battles with the sea resting on what are now empty berths, right next to where livestock would have been kept during the early part of the voyage to provide the hungry men with fresh meat. Standing by the two tiered wooden bunks that lined up against the sides and centreline in the warm incandescent glow of light reflected off the lacquer of the wooden bunks and wall panels, I somehow could imagine that, and for a while I allowed myself to be transported to the original Bounty as she pitched and rolled to the rhythm of the violent sea, the creaking of timbers that strained as she rode over the waves, the bleating of goats, and the shouts of rowdy men fuelled by the contents of the wooden casks that lay on the deck, combining in a disconsolate tune. But it was only for a brief moment … the trance that I seem to momentarily be in, broken by the sight of one of the pretty ladies descending the stairway.

Dining on the deck of the Bounty.

Crew accommodation below decks.

Bunks in the old style with a modern watertight door.

The table in the mess.

Ms Ang came down for an inspection of the crews' quarters.

Back on deck, the rest of the cruise in the glow of the bright lights of Hong Kong’s wonderful harbour in the excellent company of my fellow bloggers somehow made the evening pass like a flash, and before we knew it, the evening onboard had sadly come to an end, and it was time to bid farewell to the beautiful Bounty. As we disembarked on to the pier at Tsim Sha Tsui in the glow of the clock tower, a crowd had gathered, seemingly to gawk at the magnificent vessel … but thinking about it, it might have actually been that word had got out that she was delivering her cargo of the four pretty ladies … and it was at them that the crowd were gawking at.

The spectacle of the Symphony of Lights and the beautiful Hong Kong skyline is seen through the rigging of the Bounty.

The view of Hong Kong's magnificent skyline by night was a treat!

Alvin seemed to want to participate in the ongoing Symphony of Lights!

The dance of lights on Hong Kong's skyline.

Some of the excellent company onboard ...


More night time views of the magnificent Hong Kong skyline from the Bounty.

Tsim Sha Tsui's historic clock tower (1915) ... the last remnant of the Kowloon Railway Station.

More views off and on the Bounty …

The ship's bell.

The bowsprit and figure head.

The fore deck.

View through the rope work towards Hong Kong Island.

The compass and helm.

Part of the ship's rigging ...

More of the ship's rigging.

The figure head seen from the fore deck.

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