From 30 Jan to 16 Feb, “West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre” will be staged in Hong Kong’s future cultural hub West Kowloon Cultural District. The event features mainly Cantonese operas (which used bamboo for building stages in the old days and the event hence is titled “Bamboo Theatre”) along with some contemporary music and Chinese dance. Cantonese Opera, originated in Guangdong Province, has been included in the World Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2009.
There is a Chinese New Year Fair too in the event, with traditional snacks and handicrafts among the offerings. Chinese New Year 2013 is from 10 Feb to 12 Feb.
Some programs are free, including two Cantonese Operas and a Chinese Dance performance by Hong Kong Dance Company, a major dance troupe in HK with financial support from the Government. The Fair is also free admission.
The event is organized by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, after the success of a similar event last year. So it may be worth a visit. And imagine watching a traditional opera outdoor. That would be memorable. I learnt that a majority of the tickets are already sold out.
This past Saturday, I visited two places, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, and the flea market outside Kam Sheung Road MTR station. It was all done together and it was fun.
I visited Kadoorie Farm for its fresh produce. The fresh eggs, vegetable, bananas, sugar canes, papaya, etc, all the produce of the Farm, are sold in its farm shop. This is the only place in Hong Kong where you can buy direct such a full range of fresh and organic produce. I love its farm shop. Its eggs are particularly popular (they are brought to the shop every day at about 11am), and are so popular that each is allowed to buy one small box only. The eggs are laid by chicken raised free range on the grass. Where else in HK and China can you buy eggs like these.
After a gratifying visit to the shop, you can then visit the farm and garden. Please follow this order – shop first, and visit later. Otherwise, all the fresh produce would be sold out. (you can entrust the produce you have bought with the staff. Just ask at the farm shop’s counter.)
At this time of the year, the orchids and the Christmas flowers are blooming, very pleasing to the eyes.
Before you leave Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, stop by its cafe to enjoy the vegetarian food offered. Don’t miss out on its omelette which tastes delicious because of using fresh organic eggs from the farm.
To go to Kadoorie, you get off at Kam Sheung Road MTR station and take bus No. 64K upon leaving exit C. The bus stops in front of the Farm and the bus ride is about 20 minutes.
Right outside Kam Sheung Road MTR Station (again, outside exit C) is a flea market that is open every Saturday and Sunday. It has grown over the years. Now it has 150 stalls and is really big, featuring all sorts of products and goods, and even local snack and hot food. View this website for a feel about the market.
Choose a weekend so you can easily visit the Farm and the flea market in one go.
Located on the northwestern corner of Hong Kong, Mai Po Nature Reserve is among Asia’s finest locations for wetland biodiversity. It features fishponds, gei wai (traditional shrimp ponds), mudflats, mangroves, etc. Its mangrove forest is China’s sixth largest. What is more, the 2,700 hectare wetland is a renowned haven for migratory birds.I went to visit Mai Po last Saturday (17 Nov 2012), much impressed with its mangrove. Its mangrove forest at Hong Kong’s border with Shenzhen is big, green and impressive.
The bird watching part was most amazing. November is not the best season to watch birds here – it is not cold enough for birds to migrate. Despite this, there is still a lot of bird watching to do. With professional binocular lens, I could watch so vividly birds gracefully stand, move across the sky and in a group. For the first time I began to understand why there are “birdwatchers” on this earth . Birds are immensely beautiful to watch.
You can only visit Mai Po by joining a tour. The manager of the Reserve, WWF-Hong Kong, organizes year-round public guided tours to Mai Po. Check out here.
Hong Kong’s longest and most popular bike route runs from Tai Wai (大圍) to Tai Mei Tuk （大尾篤）. After cycling there a few times and getting bored, I ventured to try some new route.
I chose Tin Shui Wai (天水圍）, so called “the city of sadness” due to its clustering of public housing and poor neighborhoods. Unexpectedly, the district has a well paved cycle path that connects all the public housing estates and shopping malls there, and neatly makes a big circle (about 7 km long) on the outskirt of the area. It probably takes about an hour to make the circle.
The plus about biking here is, there is nobody else. Only you on the track. Another plus is, it is near Lau Fau Shan, a tourist place known for seafood. It takes a mere 20 minutes to bike to Lau Fau Shan from Tin Shui Wai.
Lau Fau Shan was packed with people during the weekend. That was not much fun. But I did enjoy walking to the pier, at the end of Lau Fau Shan Old Street (the only street there), and taking in this:
You can see the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor bridge extending into the far from the pier. Near the pier is a stretch of burying ground of oyster shells, a testament to the booming oyster industry in Lau Fau Shan in the past. Yes, it was in the past as the waters are so polluted now that there are less and less oysters and the industry has dwindled.You can still see oysters being operated on and sold to visitors, though.
How to bike from Tin Shui Wai to Lau Fau Shan
Bike to Tin Wah Road (天華路) at the intersection with Tin Ying Road (天影路) which is on the circle. The bike trail is at the left of Tian Wah Road. Follow it and you will come to a bridge and then a tunnel. At the end of Tin Wah Road, turn right to Lau Fau Shan Road. There is no bike trail on Lau Fau Shan Road, which is dusty because of the passing of many container trucks. Bike on the right pavement which is wider, and ten minutes later, you will arrive at Lau Fau Shan.
Where to rent bikes in Tin Shui Wai
Take light rail at Tin Shui Wai MTR station (exit E) to Tin Tsz (天慈), a public housing estate, which is only one stop away. There is a bike shop at Tin Tsz’s small shopping mall, called Hong Kei (雄記單車堡). The rental is HK$40 for a whole day (from 10am to 10pm). The bikes are a bit old, though.
Tai O is known for the stilt houses which are interconnected, forming a close-knit community. Previously you paid 50 cents to use a sampan to cross the creek that separates Lantau Island from the rest of Tai O. Now a bridge is in place, more convenient for people but the distinct flavor is gone.
A popular tourist spot riding on its being called “the Venice in Hong Kong”, Tai O has not lost its charisma though.