Dec 132013
 

Mei Ho House was built in 1954 as a resettlement block to accommodate those living in squats in Shek Kip Mei who lost their home to a fire on Christmas day in 1953. Together with other blocks, it was the first public housing estate – Shek Kip Mei Estate – in Hong Kong and marked the beginning of the city’s public housing policies.

Since no other public housing estates with a “H” shape and dating back to such a long time ago exist, Mei Ho House has been designated as a Historic Building and preserved, and lately converted to be a youth hostel with 129 rooms and dormitories. The hostel commenced operation starting from October this year. For a single room with breakfast included, the price is about HK$300. A double room with breakfast included is about HK$700. Given the high rent in Hong Kong, the prices look reasonable to me, and the rooms seem so much more spacious than the normal hostel rooms you can find in Hong Kong.

Inside the youth hostel is a museum showing the history of Hong Kong’s public housing from 1950’s to 1980’s. Those having visited the museum told me that the exhibits are reminiscent of their childhood and the daily items their homes once had.photo 1 photo 3 The old Hong Kong can also be experienced in the hostel’s cafe with decor reflecting the old time.cf7434fef207fe283c95be624f5db1b5

Check out  Mei Ho House Youth Hostel website for more details. 

 Posted by at 11:53 pm
Nov 302013
 

安娜_尋找Tashi Deleg_3DI am pleased to share the news that I have joined the ranks of first-time authors. My first book “Looking for Tashi Deleg – The Taste of Travel” (尋找Tashi Deleg – 旅行的味道),written in Chinese, is now available in bookstores across Hong Kong.

Published by Cosmos Books (天地圖書), a Hong Kong-based publisher, the book project is sponsored by Hong Kong Arts Development Council under the literature publishing category. A judge for the Council has this to say about the book:

可以說,這是一本個人生命之旅的報告文學,充滿寫實意味,作者不甘於困居在一個城市之中,在有限的經濟條件下,追求不同的生活體驗,以及豐足的精神境界……將生命中的不可能化爲可能。

(Translation) This can be seen as a literary book in reporting style about one’s life journey, with a realistic touch. Unwilling to be constrained to a city, the author strives to live out varied life experiences with limited economic resources for attaining richer spirituality…For the author, travel has made the impossible in life possible.

To link travel to life and explore the meaning of travel from personal experience is something I set out to do with the book. Hope you will enjoy reading it.

———————————————————————-

Title:《尋找Tashi Deleg – 旅行的味道》

Author:安娜

Publisher:Cosmos Books

Price: HK$78

Available in the outlets of Cosmos Books (天地圖書) , Joint Publishing (三聯書店)and Commercial Press (商務印書局) in Hong Kong.

You can also contact me (anna@annatam.com) and order the book.

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Nov 262013
 

I was in Guangzhou last weekend and had the opportunity to take taxi with a relative who is a Guangzhou native.  He told me a secret about Guangzhou: “We Guangzhou people only take yellow taxi. They are Guangzhou people’s taxi.” According to him, the yellow taxi company recruits only locals as taxi drivers, not those unable to speak Cantonese from other provinces. True to his words, we went on a yellow taxi whose driver started to reminisce about the past in Cantonese upon hearing that we were heading to Pan Xi Restaurant (畔溪酒家),a restaurant founded in 1947 and known for its garden setting.

The taxi driver said: “The old tea houses had a distinct flavor, which is long gone. Remember these old restaurants used to have netted windows? The owners would put up the nets over the windows so that the customers would not fly the plates out through the windows. For the bills were decided by the number of plates left on the tables. Flying plates was commonplace then.

“In days of yore, the steamed beef cubes were small as they were never re-heated. Nowadays, the steamed beef cubes are big, as they are heated again and again. The good taste is gone.”

I understand from the conversation why the Guangzhou people trust yellow taxi.

There are seven taxi colors in Guangzhou, representing different taxi operators. The taxi fare is the same despite the myriad of colors.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Nov 252013
 

If you do not wish to go for the rugged trail as described in Part 1, try this easy trail on the Island. After leaving the pier, turn left and not far on your right hand side, is a narrow path between houses with such handwritten words on the wall, indicating a path leading to country trail:photo 5 (6)Follow the path and you will come across a dessert restaurant called Kun Kei Store (坤記士多). Be brave to walk through the open restaurant – the owners may call out at you to sit down for some dessert soups. You will soon be on a paved trail to see ancient rock carvings of some three thousand years and some of the famous rock formations on the Island, as well as a light house.

The way to see rock cravings

The way to see rock cravings

The rock cravings on the Island are declared monuments in Hong Kong, discovered in 1960s. Two groups of cravings, wearing off,  are visible. photo 4 (7)As I had to meet the 4pm ferry time to leave the Island on the day of visit, I had no alternative but headed back to the pier before reaching the light house. As you can tell, the Island is interesting enough for exploration more than one day. I promised myself I would come back.

Before boarding the ferry, there was still a little bit time. So I was using the time to find out what I could buy from a store near the pier,  run by an old couple who sold herbal tea, seaweed, dry fish, etc. It seemed that they sold everything, even a sugarcane for $10, fresh from the field. There is a moving humanity touch about the Island. photo (98)

photo (100)

The couple dried herbs on the ground and sold them as slimming herbal tea.

They dried fish in the open.

They also dried fish in the open.

 Posted by at 11:53 pm
Nov 202013
 

photo 2 (17) photo 1 (18)photo 1 (19)

Date: 19 October, 2013

Strangely, for such an enchanting island, I did not visit it until recently. It captured my heart when I began to climb its hill. I started from Tin Hau Temple (turning left after leaving the pier).

The Tin Hau Temple on Po Toi Island enjoys commanding view of the sea

The Tin Hau Temple on Po Toi Island enjoys a commanding view of the sea

Near the temple, there is a rugged trail with metal chains as handrails along the way. The climb was extremely interesting and a bit exhausting with spectacular view meeting your eyes. photo 2 (18)photo 3 (10)photo 1 (21)photo 2 (20)Dotting the way are some fascinating rock formations for which Po Toi is famous, as well as signposts ensuring that you will not get lost.photo 2 (21)photo 1 (22)After about 1.5 hours of walk, you will come to an intersection with a pavilion at not far distance. You can either go up to the pavilion and walk a longer distance before heading back to the pier, or go the easier route which will take you to the pier in half an hour.

I was so smitten by the scenery and had spent longer time than expected on the route taking photos and resting that I decided to go the easier route – I did not want to miss the ferry scheduled for 4pm leaving the Island. It took me two hours in total to reach the pier again when it normally takes 1.5 hours. If you go the longer route, it will be about 2.5 hours in total.

Po Toi Island, a fishing village in the old days, is now inhabited by a very small population. So the ferry service is very infrequent. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there is only one ferry service to (10am) /from (2pm) Po Toi from Aberdeen. I went there on a Saturday. The ferry departs Aberdeen at 10am and 3pm , and leaves Po Toi at 2pm and 4pm on Saturdays. The obvious option for me was taking the 10am ferry and returning at 4pm. Sundays have more services though, and the services are mainly between Stanley and Po Toi: leaving Stanley pier at 10am, 11:30am, 3:30pm and 5pm, and leaving Po Toi for Stanley at 9:15am, 10:45am, 3pm and 4:30pm. Please view the timetable below for details:

photo (93)

(please click to enlarge to see the timetable)

The ferry service to Po Toi Island is provided by Tsui Wah Ferry (tel: 2272 2022). You can call the company if you have any question. Ferry time from Aberdeen to Po Toi is one hour and slightly shorter if it is between Stanley and Po Toi.

I spent leisurely time in a small dessert restaurant near the pier after 2-hr walk. The restaurant was run by an old lady who made and sold really delicious bean soup and who has lived on the island for most of her life. photo (94)Must not miss her green bean soup and purple rice soup. She made the dessert using wood fire. “The gas is so expensive. I cannot afford it. I just use the wood collected from the hill.” She said. She said she had been making bean soup for twenty years and saw the spike in bean price in recent years. “For all those years, I did not raise the price. I only added HK$2 to the price recently. I really put in a lot ingredients into the dessert soup,” she said.photo (96)

For the delicious bean soup packed with ingredients, she charged HK$12 only. You won’t find such delicious sweet with such good price anywhere else in Hong Kong. In fact, I noticed that all the dessert restaurants on the Island have similar price. I must say, the prices on the island are very reasonable, compared to other outlying islands in Hong Kong. This island’s people have a touch of simplicity and sincerity.

photo (97)

seaweed being dried on the Island

The Island is known to produce the best seaweed in Hong Kong.  Green bean soup with seaweed is a common and traditional Chinese dessert and that explains why Po Toi Island has quite a few dessert restaurants with green bean soup being the main and most attractive item on the menu.

How to get to the Aberdeen pier for ferry

The ferry pier is near the children playground at Aberdeen harbourfront, towards the fish retail market.

How to get to the Stanley pier for ferry

Ferry to Po Toi Island leaves Blake pier in Stanley near Murray House every Sunday or on Public Holidays.

Po Toi Island: Great Place to Be (Part 2)

 Posted by at 12:16 am