Revisiting Tai O (part 1)

It must be ten years ago when I last visited Tai O, a fishing town on the western end of Lantau Island. It seems that there are now more tourists here, more seafood produce on sale and a wide variety of snacks to beckon to visitors.

What is more, there are now boat trips for tourists. The whole place is bustling during the weekend.

It however still retains a flavour that is unique. At every corner, you can see dry fish, in their varied forms of hanging and drying:

Dry shrimp on the bike and shrimp paste stored in containers after containers:

And dry egg yolk:

And dry egg yolk and fish:

It is delightfully colorful.

Organic farmers’ markets in Hong Kong

The organic farmers’ markets are expanding in HK. Now there are at least three markets across the city, selling the produce of local organic farmers:

1. The organic farmers’ market in Taipo, every Sunday, 9am-5pm

This surely is the largest in scale, but is a bit far from the city.

2. The organic farmers’ market in Star Ferry pier, Central

Previously open on Sunday only, it is now also open on Wednesday. It is a bit of walking from Central MTR station.

3. Mei Foo Farm Fest, every Sunday, 11am-5pm

The newest of the three, this market is quite easy to reach. After leaving the exit C2 of Mei Foo MTR station, walk across the Mount Sterling Mall (萬事達廣場)in the direction of Kwai Chung Road. The market is under the elevated highway, on the Mei Foo section of Kwai Chung Road. Green living / farming activities are held in this market. In June, there was Corn Festival promoting the corn harvesting season.

Jimmy’s hugs

I was given Jimmy Liao (幾米)’s new book: Hugs. A sweet picture book, it depicts hugs between animals and children in their varied forms. The color, the line and form keep me hooked. I like this in particular, a new interpretation of the snow white story.

You may not have the prince charming (“white-horse prince” in literal Chinse)’s hug; But your hug makes me feel I am the prince charming.

I mentioned earlier that Taiwan-based bookstore Eslite will open its first bookstore in HK, also the city’s largest. The latest news is that, this will materialize in August, with the bookstore to be located at No. 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay. You will find Jimmy Liao’s picture books there.

Kennedy Town

Kennedy Town is an old neighbourhood at the western end of Hong Kong Island. I lived in the area for at least 10 years and moved out three years ago. It seemed that the neighborhood had frozen in time, with old buildings, traditional shops, affordable specialty restaurants and many of the elderly and elderly homes.

It has quickened its pace of change in recent years though. With MTR coming to the area in 2014, it has finally welcomed in first coffee chain shop Pacific Coffee; one new hotel has opened at Cadogan Street while another at Sands Street will soon commence operation.

the new hotel at Cadogan Street

More upmarket residential buildings have been put up, attracting more fancy and hip restaurants to operate in the neighbourhood, particularly around Davis Street. It also means tearing down of old buildings and old shops, smothering old ways of living.

This used to be the site of a traditional Chinese restaurant called Sun Chung Wah Restaurant (新中華飯店) where I used to buy dim sum home after jogging in the park. Now it is a construction site.

This congee shop (Cheuk Kai) at the intersection of North Street and Belcher’s Street is a piece of treasure in Kennedy Town, known for decent food quality at low price. It is rumored that it may have to move due to soaring rent. Let’s pray it will stay.

Right across from the old site of Sun Chung Wah Restaurant is Cheung Heung, another treasure of Kennedy Town. A traditional Hong Kong style restaurant, Cheung Heung is famous for its milk tea and its own baked buns, particularly pineapple buns and coconut buns.

Cheung Heung's outer wall is undergoing renovation when this photo is being taken

Hong Kong has fewer traditional restaurants like Cheung Heung day by day. We can only pray it will stay.

Sun Chung Wah Restaurant, Cheuk Kai and Cheung Heung are reputed to be the three treasures of Kennedy Town. Now one is gone, with another in danger.

For me, there is one treasure more in Kennedy Town – St Loren Bakery. There are two St Loren bakeries (both on Belcher’s Street, one near Holland Street, the other between Smithfield Road and Davis Street) in the area, which offer probably the most delicious egg tarts at cheapest price in town. One egg tart costs HK$2.5 only. They are hugely popular. Don’t miss it.

Jimmy and his sensitivity

The best known author-illustrator in greater China must be him, Jimmy Liao (幾米),from Taiwan. His picture-books are well loved by adult readers, including friends of mine. Melancholic sensitivity punctuated by sparks of hope give rise to images and ideas of great appeal in his illustrations.

I was recently sent these illustrations. I was touched. I must introduce Jimmy’s works to the readers of this blog, I caught myself thinking. Jimmy used to work in any advertising agency for 12 years. He then quit his job to embark on a freelance publishing career. He was later diagnosed with leukemia, the experience of which has sharpened his sensitivity while enriching his illustrations.

Where to find his books? The famous Taiwan-based bookstore Eslite will come to Hong Kong this summer. It will be located at Hysan Place, No. 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay. Covering over 36,000 sq. feet., it will become the largest bookstore in Hong Kong. It has bookstore, gift shop, multimedia room, children’s store, forum, arrt space, tea Room and café. Rest assured you will find plenty of Jimmy’s picture books on the shelf.