June 2005 Archives
When I miss home, I go to City Super. One time, I went home with three pieces of swordfish to cook for my "adoptive" family, which set me back for around 120HKD (20CAD). The time before, I craved for food we didn't even have at home, the U-shaped French saucisse sèche (80HKD/12CAD) (and with it, a freshly baked baguette (15-20HKD/2-3CAD)). Which is fine, because the saucisse lasted for a whole month (which never happens at home), and the baguette almost as good as the one we get in Canada.
My dinner tonight was a bright idea I had that wasn't so bright after all. I bought a half-loaf of "pain paysan" (as the label says), which doesn't toast at all, and is probably as authentic as it can get. So in order to finish that, I thought, oh, let's buy some cold meats at the cold cuts counter. So there I go, and spend 10-15 minutes at the counter, as the girl employee in training slices and asks me if the pieces are thin enough. But 22.90HKD (3.70CAD) for two slices of white ham? That beats me. I know it's expensive, but that's at least twice as expensive as in Canada!
The good thing is the saucisse seche, probably a fruit of relaxed import laws, heritage of HK's past (and present?) as a duty-free port (right?), because it isn't even available in Canada, and I'd pay the 12CAD for a taste of it every now and then.
Just downstairs from City Super, still within the Times Square shopping mall in Causeway Bay, there's one of the 200 McDonald's outlet in the territory of the HK SAR.
McDonald's is cheap, with my Canadian salary, thanks to the drop in the value of the US dollar (to which the HKD is pegged to at 7.80 per USD). A combo meal costs between 20 and 25 HKD, that's 3.30 to 4.15 CAD. No GST, wooh.
Food is of course not always as cheap. Competing in the lunchbox market, traditional "siu lap" outlets in Causeway Bay will sell for 28HKD. It's a few dollars more than in other places, 'cause of the rent, but if you take prices at the Maxim's or Cafe de Coral, it's also 26-ish, 35 with the milk tea. Ajisen Ramen (un-Googleable, but it's still the most visible Japanese noodles franchise (and it's HK-based too, despite the name, just like Aji Ichiban)) has noodles in the range of 32-45HKD, not cheap, but plays in the more sophisticated, if Japanese equals sophisticated, often the case with young people here, as much as it is back home.
Ajisen Ramen. Corn noodles, with Japanese char-siu, egg and veggies, and side-order of dumplings for approx 40HKD (6.70CAD).
Maxim's Fast-food. Yim Kook Cai (salty baked chicken) set, which comes with the rice, a yummy MSG broth, boiled lettuce and jasmine tea. Trashy Chinese fast-food, I thought to myself, for about 35HKD.
Threesome: a McDonald's stacked over a 7-Eleven over a Cafe de Coral Hmmm.
Tap water is safe to drink in Hong Kong, says Wikitravel, but my habits have been changed, I take fun in boiling the day's portion of water. >_> Funny, but that's how the rest of the world population lives (if they can find potentially drinkable water at all).
A beautiful day yesterday prompted me to hitch a hike on the peak tram to Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, and the most postcard-able panorama of Hong Kong.
(Oops, not a representative picture of CUHK, but it's the best one showing buildings too... The campus is behind, and you need to take the shuttle, which I didn't want to do...)
CUHK has the reputation of being second behind HKU, but it's surely the top Chinese-taught school in HK. Located along the KCR track between Shatin and Lo Wu (previously discussed), it has a vast campus in the middle of the HK-ese countryside... Like a MacDonald campus versus McGill I suppose in terms of campus. Has had its share of international notoriety during the SARS crisis alongside HKU.
The KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway) traditionally takes care of railway-based mass transit in Kowloon and the New Territories (with the lack of free space, they hardly have any prospects on HK Island). The KCR expanded a lot since the last time I came, with many lines in Shatin and the rest of the New Territories, some under-developed areas of the HK SAR, but its main line remains the line from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu, at the border with Shenzhen.
The Luohu crossing point, over on the China side. A huge plaza within Chinese proportions, and the shopping malls on each side of it. ;D
The Zhongshan suit!
Laurel Restaurant, in Luohu Commercial City. Cheap for Hong Kong shoppers with great service and well-presented food. About 100-150RMB depending of your appetite...
On all my trips to Shenzhen, I always went by the Commercial City in Luohu. Cultural shock to the Western-educated. All the hassling. So many secret passages. It's so obvious, you wonder if the hidden fakes shop do what they do for the marketing... (Always remember the shop number, no matter how hard you will try, this place rearranges at night - or rather, shops look so alike, and the lack of windows and its giant size make the task of remembering a shop topographically is an impossible one)
A curtains shop. Because it's much cheaper here...
Handbags. Colourful ones. Shenzhen is truly a shopaholic's crack. Just ask my aunt...
my little airport - 在動物園散步才是正經事
"The ok thing to do on Sunday afternoon is to toddle in the zoo" by "my little airport". A happy-sad song like I like them. The best thing sung in Cantonese I've heard in a long time...
Sunday is the day where you have to realize that there are 5% or so (improvised statistic - I think that's what I read somewhere) of non-ethnic-Chinese living in HK. At least, some proportion of it is made up by Filipino, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian domestic helpers who get a day off and gather altogether in outdoor public places. Most notably, you will see them in Central, in the area around Exchange Square. Most middle to upper-class families employ domestic helpers, and they are surely one of the reasons why many many Hongkongers afford to work overboard overtime (so if I were ever ask to work overtime in the future, I'll shut my mouth and think of the folks down here).
On Sundays that I spent in Hong Kong (provided I go out that day...), I always noticed something new about those sit-ins. Last time in Wan Chai, it was those seemingly-maids, perhaps a hundred of them, gathered at the base of an emptied commercial building (when the yuppies take their weekly break on Sunday, the maids-on-break-too take over). By groups of a dozen each, they wore coloured team t-shirts, as if participating in some sort of rally.
This week, it was the helpers gathered in the lobby of the HSBC building in Central (that mass of people does *not* occur everyday!):
As I was taking the bus near my aunt's flat this early afternoon, I noticed those university-age kids in suit, on the side of the road, waving what seemed to be promotional fliers of some sort. Students on a end-of-term project? (Gosh, they were just in suits, with a purple-ish file in hand waving at passing cars...) Actually on my way back home, I had my answer from fellow bus passengers (they were still around, after a few hours in suit at 30 degrees centigrade, taking turns at waving and PSP-ing). Those kids were actually of the same race than those I encountered in that shopping mall three years ago (my cousin Sophie, surrounded with them, about to surrender): they are selling flats!
The housing market is teh competitive in HK, so what do they do to sell newly built flats? They send university-age kids in suits to older upscale neighborhoods like Tai Hang and have them wave promotional fliers at passerbys from bus stops on the side of the road...
Dropping by Kubrick, the small cafe/bookstore/musicstore nextdoor from Broadway Cinematheque, I noticed the HK indies music stand. So, after reading about it in the newspaper, the rumours of an underground scene in HK weren't so exaggerated after all. ^^; I purchased two albums, almost randomly, trying not to pick something electronic without vocals, or a Canto-rap album. So here's what I got:
The one on the left is my little airport. Chose it because the title rings like "my little lover" in my head. It ended up being a boy/girl (not as advertised on the cover) indie/electronica duo (the boy, who goes by "P", does most the composing, and the girl, Nicole, does the vocals). I also bought it because of the title, mind you, which I semi-understood in my semi-novice Chinese (it said, in my head, "the normal thing to do on a Sunday afternoon is to whatever-whatever" (to toddle, says translation on the back)). In fact I like the songs, if only the arrangements could be a bit better, but then what's to expect from indie... Anyways, try the title song, track number 2 (their website has samples, and so do I), which made the Top 10 of the pop charts (which I gather from an interview in the Young Post in the Sunday SCMP). A mix of English and Cantonese tracks, according to the song titles.
The other album I took home was Tai Tau Fat. Which is "big boss Buddha" in my equally semi-novice Cantonese? This is a foursome, like Judy And Mary and No Doubt were: three boys, one girl, and in my limited musical scope, has a sound remindful of those two bands? Whatever. Good music (they call their style "cutie rock", so that's typical Judy And Mary to me: more reasons to like them), and lyrics are all in Cantonese; it's pleasant to hear music in that language which sounds original... Why did I select the album? Well... the cover was that intense red, and the band's logo imitates that of HK fast-food chain Cafe de Coral (大家樂) ... ^^;
As soon as I found out about this movie Tony Takitani based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, I decided I was going to find some time and money to return to the movie theatre. It's not affordable to go to the cinema, when the cost of the reproduction is typically so cheap. 正版VCD are in average 20HKD, and 40 for current releases. Regular DVDs are twice that price.
The movie soundtrack is a succession of soft piano solos, remindful of that played (only) during the sad moments of Amelie. The Murakami-esque elements? Tony Takitani's father is a jazz musician. The female protagonist has a strange obsession with buying clothes (but then is it really that strange, asks the author tongue-in-cheek).
The cinema room was almost full (in HK, you select the seat when you buy the tickets, like when you attend a play), and it felt kind of cool to be in a room full of potential Murakami fans, or just of strange Japanese cinema...
Unrelated. Later that night, after taking the MTR, I walked near the Sogo intersection in Causeway Bay to get to the McDonald's (Double Cheeseburgers are on special at 8HKD since the beginning of this month). Also, to be noted, a poster is on the exterior of Sogo since the beginning of June where Faye Wong promotes a skincare product (the month before, right across, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung was also promoting a skincare product ^^;).
I gave myself a kick in the arse, and went. I walked around, stopped in a Starbucks looking at people coming in and out, waiting for the party to start, and went back for another walk around. Lan Kwai Fong is a dead-end street (I thought it was a whole neighborhood), and is packed in one single block, one of the hottest party areas for Hong Kong yuppies. Actually, it's an outdoor party on a pedestrian street, like we have on Saint-Laurent in Montreal in the summer, with more bars and less improvisation.
I put on the clothes my youngest uncle gave to me: a pair of Armani jeans I was surprised I could fit in, and a John Henry "European Fit" checkered shirt. I was slighly over-dressed, so I untucked and rolled up.
After walking a few rounds, I stopped at a calmest of all bars, and ordered a full pint of Hoeggarden that looked more like a bucket to me.
(All pictures, while I select a few of them for the blog)
(For the record, my brother's new Canon IXY55 was used and it is indeed party-environment-proven ^^;)
And the sun shone again. So it was today, unannounced, a relatively sunny day between the passing clouds.
(Take a camera, put it in a room with air-con overnight. Take it out into the heat, dampness. Take photo. Haze caused by instant condensation on the inner lense guaranteed...)
I took the tram down to Sheung Wan, and clamb the stairs up Mid-Levels. I reached the HK Museum of Medical Sciences, which had an exposition on the 100 days of SARS (two years ago, on June 23rd, the WHO took HK off that infamous list of infected cities). By chance, I caught a talk given by a Dr So, who was actively involved during the epidemic (if I came a week earlier, then I would've caught the head of the micro department of HKU).
But that was it. Not a very consequential day for a Saturday. My aunt just passed by me and reminded me I said I would be going out tonight, and which I don't currently feel like doing, because I'm tired and because there's nobody to accompany me (while everyone and their mothers tell me to experience HK nightlife... do I look like a social animal?).
Out of curiosity, I went to check the schedule for FanTasia 2005, one of the foremost movie festivals, themed about Asian and Horror/Fantastic films (thus the name, duh). Of course I checked the HK column (and the Japanese/Korean/rest too), but eh, no recent releases, nor those I'd expect, like last year's Koma, or The Eye 10... There were:
- Breaking News: I saw the VCD at the shop last week, but I instead went to see Infernal Affairs at UA Pacific Place, as they are showing the Top 10 all-time movies (shoot, it's in Chinese only...) (Some English-language press release).
- One Nite in Mongkok: Apparently, Mong Kok is not that scary anymore after they built the Langham Place shopping mall in the middle of this young shopping district. A news report I read had security staff of the Langham Place scout the surroundings with policemen to contribute to public security. Eh? If you are looking for seedy areas, there are plenty of them on the Kowloon side (the Western part of HK Island where I live and hang out is pretty asceptisized in constrast). It has both Daniel Wu and Alex Fong, so teen girls will like this one.
- Love Battlefield: Never heard of that movie, but I bet Faye Wong's song of the same name is on the soundtrack. Anyways, it stars Eason Chan, a well-known rocker/cantopopper who I hear is pretty angsty and rebellious. And down the list, you will also see "Carl Ng". So there were two presentations of Karen Mok's show. On Friday we had Andy Lau performing some of his songs in duet with Karen Mok. On Saturday, they had this Carl Ng performing the same act. But he doesn't sing, and all he does is dance and look pretty. Which is what he does for a living anyways, archetypical male model, plastic face, so metrosexual he *almost* looks like a Westerner...
- Three... Extremes: Saw the VCD at the store and was sure it was going to be in FanTasia! I thought it was Leon Lai on the cover, but he doesn't act in those kinds of movies (it was Tony Leung Ka-Fai - the "other" Tony Leung). No, instead he plays in romantic flicks with Faye Wong and the rest of them, or in stuff like Fallen Angels, which is out of stock and not reprinted and only sells to Westerners on VCD for about 150HKD (that's 25CAD my dears).
- Jewel in the Palace: Noooooooo! 大長金, or roughly, really roughly, translated to "Jewel In The Palace", is the most hit Korean TV drama in HK this year (perhaps the rest of Asia, but I didn't ask). The series finale was in April, the month I arrived in HK, and you had shopping malls emptying up on a freaking Sunday evening (despite the management showing the episode on large projection screens). No idea why it's playing at FanTasia, besides being an attempt to woo Asians who don't exactly like horror flicks. And gosh, it's being played on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in a "condensed version of three hours each"...
- One Missed Call 2: I failed to go see that one, just because it's the sequel of a teen horror flick?
- Kamikaze Girls: Kamikaze Girls was playing at the Broadway Cinematheque, and might still be. I should go see that one, if not for its Fabuleux Desting d'Amelie Poulain feel, at least for Kyoko Fukada?
It's a "red rain" alert, which means no school for the kids... After all those days of rain, and after exams period, does the meteological service in HK announce the alert.
The skies are actually clear as we speak, but dark patches loom in the horizon... Anyways:
Same pic as yesterday. Cuz nothing has changed.
(Re-)visiting University of Hong Kong today. So I was dropped off the side of the road (bus 28, running from Causeway Bay to Queen Mary Hospital for 8 dollars something), exactly where I was dropped off for my interview, the reason why I'm here in the first place. Two months and a half later, I had a 5 seconds of bitter reminiscence, and I was off to revisit the crime scene. Indeed. Queen Mary Hospital is quite boring, probably built around the 1970s, and as ugly as anything built in that period will get, especially wetted by the ambiant climate. Today's was particularly indicative of it.
Down the slope from QMH was what seems to be the new Faculty of Medicine building, soon to be renamed after the richest Chinese man alive, Li Ka-Shing (Mr Li). Hongkongers (or only the alumni) are outraged. In the newspaper, in the opinions section of the SCMP, an alumni says that what the HKU School of Medicine tried to do to distinguish itself as a British-style institution goes down the drain with the renaming. A Westerner will surely wonder to a "Li Ka-Shing School of Medicine" graduate: 1- Who the hell is Li Ka-Shing? and 2- You teach Chinese medicine at HKU?
I then proceeded to the main HKU campus, to the School of Computer Science, and then to various other similarly brown buildings. The institution ranks high in my esteem, but just as for McGill, why so much brown? :/ (Answer: b/c we'll be as annoyed in 20 years with all those aluminium and glass buildings being built since 5 years)
Cedric, happier than last time.
Queen Mary Hospital, one of the health centre attached to the HKU.
Well located on Pokfulam Road between QMH and HKU is the Pokfulam Road Christian Cemetary. I'd die anytime to be buried there. <3
Cafeteria in the HKU Student Union building. Free copies of the Internation Herald Tribune are distributed outside in the hall. Food is ultra-cheap by HK standards (and what I've seen on Canadian campuses).
The central point of the HKU campus, the Sun Yat-Sen Place (who's one more famous alumni...).
A beautiful Museum of Art on campus grounds towards the east end. Had a photography exhibit of HK Tramways, and works of Gianluca Miniaci on the theme of Nabokov's Lolita.
The Arts building.
Anyways, today's plan consists in getting an umbrella, and to take a bus up to Queen Mary Hospital. If not to far to walk, then I'll circle back to HKU, see the university museum, and then that SARS exhibit at the Medical Sciences Museum further down in Mid-Levels. That seems like a plan.
A quick look outside the window indicates that the weather still hasn't changed a bit: cloudy, gray, certainly raining. I saw the satellite map of China and East Asia the other day. There's this thick stretch of clouds going from Vietnam to Shanghai, wide like half of China, just hovering above all of Coastal South China (but it's clear outside on the ocean!).
Same pic as yesterday. Cuz nothing has changed.
It took two hours of bargaining, but we've got them...
(Some sample pictures and videos)
The Canon IXY55/IXUS50/SD400, taken using the Panasonic.
The Panasonic Lumix DSC-FX8, taken using the Canon.
Panasonic DMC-FX8 in pink for my mother and the Canon IXY Digital 55 for my brother (otherwise known as SD400 in NA and IXUS 50 in Europe/Asia). The Panasonic feels cheaper, so does its interface. But ultimately, so I conclude preliminarily, it takes crisper pictures than the Canon (it's its "Optical Image Stabilizer" feature, which corrects the effects of hand-shake, my biggest headache with the S40).
One thing done. Now must satisfy my own techno-lust with some MP3 player (an iPod/iShuffle? :D).
... as if it were something new. At least it isn't getting any better. I haven't seen a clear blue sky since, um, ... (still thinking) a week and a half ago? So let's spread the joy.
(Really, it's raining, check the vids...)
Yeah, the tower we live in is being renovated (with drills currently drilling on the upper floors) and so the Chinese, or it seems to be a trend in Asia, always use bamboo supports and cover them with this oft-green loosely-knitted cloth/plastic material. It has been the view since April 9th, in fact, the morning after I arrived in HK (and was worse at some point when they painted the exterior and had the windows covered with plastic paper). Usually, of what I remember from 2002, the view of Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣) is fantastically unobstructed at my aunt's flat. On the left-hand-side, you have one of HK largest sports stadium, and straight ahead is the back of the Causeway Bay district (perhaps Happy Valley (跑馬地), but I doubt it, kinda far), and on the right-hand-side is Causeway Bay, bordering on the area surrounding Victoria Park.
(Utada Hikaru - Addicted to You)
Cool, just another song in my head from a past life (just like Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy" the other day).
I came out of the flat at 4PM-ish, thinking I'd catch the end of the international dragon boat competition, but even (some) buses make you wait indecent amounts of time (albeit rarely the case in reality). So I took the 11 down to Wanchai, spent time walking around to find the nearest Pacific Coffee so I can catch up on reading. Then I had dinner at the Maxim's Cafe, a Salted Steamed Chicken (Yim Kook Kai), and walked to Causeway Bay to shop for VCDs.
I visited my ancestral village yesterday, from which my grandfather emigrated to Madagascar. Like many members of the peasantry, leaving your hometown must've been teh gamble one was ready to make for their offspring's benefit, pretty much like what many out-of-provincers in Guangdong and other richer coastal provinces are trying to do nowadays. what is it actually, to leave what you are familiar with in order to thrive for a better life? What is it? Must be what our parents, grand-parents, as North-American-born Chinese, have in common.
So, the said ancestral village (on the father side, as "tradition" calls), was always said by my family to be in the outskirts of the city of Shunde (In official pinyin; in Canto, you roughly say "Seun Tak" - written 順德), another big small city of a few million people - an hour or two drive south of the provincial capital of Guangzhou. I don't think we actually drove all the way down to Shunde, as we (my dad's cousin and I) first landed in Nansha (南沙) in the county of Panyu (番禺) in the Pearl River Delta, facing HK on the China side. We visited my uncle's (dad cousin is in fact "uncle" if both their dads are brother - that's how patriarchal China is/was) other factory in Nansha, and had their driver bring us all the way to Foshan (佛山), another small big city of a few million near where my mother's ancestral town is (my other grandfather also left Guangdong province to seek more favourable fortune overseas, in Saigon). We were driven to Foshan via Guangzhou. Geographically, Foshan is between Guangzhou and Nansha/Panyu, but the highway actually crosses the area with only a few exits, so is the layout of expressways (gaosugonglu - 高速公路) in China. (Rough map of the Pearl River Delta)
The region is said to be one of the ten most dynamic economic centres in the World, symbolized by the Guangzhou-Macau-HK triangle. I was expecting more out-of-provincers in the streets, wherever I went, but they were barely noticeable. I suspect that I went by all the places reserved to the wealthier (in their own relative way) like restaurants, shopping malls and transit centres. So where I went, people typically spoke Cantonese, as it is, after all, what was called the Province of Canton, in the colonial times. A bit like a Hong Kong, but somewhat more crude. After visiting China a few times, I can't stress how much more lawful and clean Hong Kong is (in its own relative way). I don't know how new it was, but piracy in HK is not at all rampant, you gotta look a bit before finding your usual pirated software and fashion items. But China? Pfff.
Our ancestral village is called "Cot'gn'on" (which I don't have the official pinyin or Chinese characters, so don't try to pronounce it in English/French, ok?). The nearest urban centre is called "Lecong" (樂從 - simply "Provenance of Happiness"), which is one of those small big burghs... well you get the picture...
Now the pictures (the rest of them are here, along with videos of the house):
Me smiling inside the house (while its state is no laughing business) in what seems to have been a sleeping room.
Indeed in a pitiful state: that's the state of the roof above the kitchen room. Not so surprising since no-one lived in it for several decades (I supposed not since the 50s).
The worship table, left intact for all that time...
Calm and peace during the hour or so we spent in the village while I ponder about several things worth my time, and pose in a narcissistic frenzy. It's a small village connected to the town of Lecong through a small road into the fields, I'd buy a chalet here if I lived in HK.
We left the village through Foshan, and revisted that weird skeleton of a skyscraper. It was said that not long after its completion, they found out it was built over a huge hole in the ground. So they emptied it as they could, poured huge amounts of cement into the ground, and left it like that. Dominates the Foshan skyline for some ten years plus now.
I know people back home have been complaining about the recent rain, but then they obviously never experience real tropical rain in a real tropical city.
Raindrops flowing down a window at my aunt's.
Raining, as I wait for minibus 21M from Tai Hang Drive to Causeway Bay.
More bad news for tomorrow (and next week).
April 1st: Nagasaki, on the side of the hill to Glover's Garden.
April 11th: Hong Kong, pictures taken at the Wan Chai visa bureau of the PRC in HK.
April 20th: Hangzhou, in the morning on a boat on West Lake.
May 2nd: Hong Kong, at South Bay Beach in Island South.
May 11th: Saigon, with a captured American tank at the War Atrocities Museum.
May 20th: Guilin, mountains and water (and city).
May 31st: Kuala Lumpur, the customary landmark shot.
June 11th: Hong Kong, at the Dragon Boat Festival on Stanley's Main Beach.
I counted how much I spent. Close to 7000CAD, which is about what I had spent in Asia in 2002. The exchange rate is better now, and maybe I saved a lot by knowing how to spend my money in HK and how to get unexpensive lodging/travelling abroad. Japan itself was about 90,000 yen in spendings, plus 50,000 in transport, and 25,000 in lodging. Then four trips from HK averaging 2500HKD. For almost three months of travelling.
But what am I saying? I decided to extend my stay abroad. Since my family is going to Egypt in July, I've now decided to meet them there instead of staying home alone in Montreal. Well, screw summer in Mtl, it's only good a summer because it's not wet and actually sunny (plenty of that in the desert). No Fantasia this year, but who gives when I can purchase the VCD for 15HKD (when it's not pirated)? I miss the daily life dearly, and all my friends' stories which can only by told in a bi-monthly bulk with a minimum 24-hour lag.
The Egypt trip, so I've heard, is a three-week trek including a 10-day stay in resort city of Hurghada, a cruise on the Nile, Abu-Simbel, and the Pyramids (and dead monarchs). And scuba diving for the first time in 7 years?
Indeed, I am at every local festival nowadays. This was the Dragon Boat festival, which I am particularly fond of b/c of institutionalized gulping of 粽子 (rice dumplings), which, in their salted pork variety (hmmm, pork fat), are my among my favourite foods.
Enough food, and so an account of what I did Saturday the 11th. I took bus 65 bound for Island South, the district comprising some of the richest properties on the territory of HK, and well-known for being one of those places outside of urban areas, and where the locals gather to on weekends and public holidays. Island South has places like Aberdeen ("Little Hong Kong"), Repulse Bay, Shek O, and Stanley. Of course, there's only one road going through the mountains to Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and finally Stanley, from HK's north side (the one facing the Harbour - and HK's traditional city centre). And with the Dragon Boat festival (a Saturday *and* a Public Holiday - since Hongkers, in their collective imagination, consider the weekend to be Sunday only), that means jam well into mid-afternoon, and an hour and a half trip that usually takes 1/4 of that time.
Murray House (down in the middle - that Neo-whatever bldg): this building was originally built in Central, and stood as one of the oldest colonial buildings in HK, until redevelopment (the famed Bank of China Tower took over its spot) had the best of it... The compromise (since some people still have a patrimonial conscience here in HK) was to cut down the building in pieces and transport it to Stanley... The thing is, they lost a few boxes in the process... and found them only a few years ago, and it was rebuilt in 2001 (I saw it when I came in 2002 as well).
This place swarms with Gweilos! They are paved with bars showing international rugby and the like. Population is extremely British Empire.
The Stanley Main Beach, to the opposite side of the peninsula where the village of Stanley is.
Dragon Boat Festival, what I came for. Was rewarded with this crowded beach!
Because I'm in HK, I *must* see at least one "yin cheung hui" (音唱会?) while I'm there, and then I read in the newspaper on the plane flying back from Singapore that Karen Mok was performing at the Coliseum this Friday... So it's not Faye Wong, or Stefanie Sun, but I've played Karen Mok's 'best of' album on the 'amp several times before. It was 200HKD, and it basically felt like being in one of those DVDs... HK shows are amazing, just like the entertainment business. Where else do they expect most artists to be as good singers, actors, dancers? I've not been to pop shows before (nor really watched any of those DVDs...), but is this type of performance (with its bits of acting, dancing, and singing) also the deal in the West? Andy Lau Tak-Wah also made an appearance circa 10:30PM, and I caught it on video...
(The Extremely Karen Mok Show 2005)
Pre-show. HK Coliseum is smaller than it looks from the outside (data not shown), or in movies (see Tsui Hark's Time and Tide - my only other reference).
Closest thing I've got to a face pic of Karen.
The performance (really, one should really check the videos posted in the link above...).
01 - Jean Leloup - Je suis parti
02 - Sheryl Crow - If It Makes You Happy
03 - Rufus Wainwright - Across the Universe
04 - Stefanie Sun - Kite
05 - Henri Salvador - Il fait Dimanche
06 - Dinah Washington - What A Diff'rence A Day Made
07 - Rolling Stones - She's Like A Rainbow
08 - Yuki - JOY
09 - The Brilliant Green - Greenwood Diary
10 - Gigi Leung - The One He Likes Is You
11 - Faye Wong - Sky (unplugged)
12 - Francoise Hardy - Ce petit coeur
13 - Chara - I wanna freely love you
14 - SES - Dreams Come True
2046 in Montreal? Hah! Google has no clue, but I already bought the DVD (for a relatively hefty 80HKD or ~14CAD) and will bring it back with me to Mtl. I saw it on Saturday, so it's really a sequel to In The Mood For Love, where Chow Mo Wan goes completely wacko. Some reaction I can feel for, for the very least. I thought it was to be a futuristic movie, but it wasn't as "fantastic" as I wanted to expect it to be. Very well-grounded in the Hong Kong of the Sixties (the one I dream to travel to someday), with the few references to 2046 in Chow Mo-Wan's head and novels, as he searches for Su Li-Zhen. Really, really, really the sort of romantic shit I'd eat every day (since there's no other reason why I like Chungking Express so much - speaking of which, I haven't even done the WKW-fan hypothetical walk around town - and wtf, I don't even realize I'm in Dreamland?).
Ok, so I was in Macau to visit my grand-aunt (my grandmother's sister on my father's side), and my grand-uncle. In Chinese, all this explaining of who's who ultimately reduces to one term (tai yi-po). It's complicated for a CBC like me to know all the possibilities that are currently not in use (such as my father's brothers potential sons and daughters, who're not just cousins, but "tong" brothers/sisters - so this paternalistic society and its corresponding language says). And multiple family names, if possible in Western societies, is totally unthinkable in the Chinese society. But I can see how one breaks a deal with his/her partner in crime, such as naming the first child after one of the spouses, and the second after the other, but how do you infirm filial relationship?).
This is me with my grand-aunt. She's that cute little 80-something lady who just can't stop chatting. She thinks I act like my father - which is only a natural way to describe a grand-nephew she saw for a few hours three years ago, and then previously as a kid, and a baby.
On the third or fourth shot from the video of this BBC news feed. I am dressed in orange, sporting spiked hairdo, reading my newspaper (HK Magazine, so either it was the interview with dissident Wuer Kaixi, or the "relationships" column in the classified - and most likely the latter ^^;).
Politics is like a spectators sport to me. This is like Game 2 of the Great Democracy championship. You can't or won't know what team I was cheering for. Or rather, as a Canadian, it's like getting tickets for a game between teams which are neither your home team.
When doing the classifying of my entry into categories, all the entries about/in HK fall under the parent category "Asia 2005).
Crossing on Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay, I feel like repeating myself, but this is freaking Times Square for Hong Kong. There's a shopping center called Times Square nearby, totally unrelated. It's great, 19% of Hongkongers think it's the greatest mall.
Another evening picture of Causeway Bay.
Symptomatic of what the few last days have been like... It's like, I'd rather stay in HK and do things as if I were home. But then, I must force myself to attend things or go to places I'll probably never come back to for many years. Of course, I say that, and two years after, I'm back, tada. Not this time I guess. So there you go, this was a June 4th vigil in memorandum of the massacre 16 years ago. I was sitting in the middle, straight ahead, near people who got interviewed and stuff, but got bored of the inaudible chantings and yelling in Cantonese. But like many Chinese, or heck, overseas Chinese, I don't exactly know what happened, and tend to think that to be greater, the Chinese govt should democratize, open up to more voices. But I also think that as long as there's economic prosperity and somewhat of better life for the average citizen, then all is good. I don't know what to think otherwise (other than, China is like its pop culture). I just like the Chinese nation, but I dislike the political system, and they're things totally conditionned by my North American education. I do think that Wen Jiabao is cool-looking, and that Hu Jintao is, well, an engineer...
I am about to go out. It's a bad habit to wake up at 11AM and then leave the house at 3PM.
I'm back in Hong Kong, finally, after two weeks trekking outside of the SAR. It's good to be "home", but I am still one or two levels below that stupid "am I home" recursion. What is home? HK? Surely not Japan. Montreal it's pretty sure. Well, no doubt it's Montreal, I mean, I am not that cuckoo. It's hard to declare myself homesick, because it isn't really that. I am enjoying HK a lot. I have time, and live HK like a Hongker (most of the time - when I'm not at the Arts Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui). So I even bought tickets in the HKD200 section for the Karen Mok show on Friday at the HK Stadium. Not a biggest fan of Cantopop, but Karen certainly feels more "indie" than, say, Joey, Kelly, and the rest of the troupe. And besides, I wanted to see what a HK show was like, for never watching any of those karaoke DVDs (actually I did, the Stefanie Sun one :D).
Yes. Well. Besides that, HK has been hot as usual. It might fall to the 10-15 during the winter, but as soon as summer hits, it rarely changes from its 28-32 standpoint. I do enjoy the climate, the humidity and everything, but only because the ubiquity of air-con makes it so much more bearable. It's also because of how close buildings are from each other, as opposed to in Singapore or KL. Walk in the streets, and you will feel the air-con blowing out from the shops (usually the pricier ones, like jewelry boutiques - I guess it's just another way to attract customers - like the CD/VCD/DVD shops have this annoying dude-announcer bombarding passerbys with "cheap CD/VCD/DVD, not expensive, 10 dollars each, come by and choose and look" -start loop again-).
There's a ton of things I want to do in Hong Kong, for sure, let's not waste one's time... I am a bit taken aback by my propensity to live "by the moment", and at this moment, I feel like completing a blog entry and posting the summary of Singapore and Malaysia. But I guess that will never come, so just click on the right-hand side icon that I haven't designed for nothing. :D