Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Hong Kong Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
 A tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
 Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Eight cows a-snoozing
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Nine strays relaxing
Eight cows a-snoozing
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Ten monks swashbuckling
Nine strays relaxing
Eight cows a-snoozing
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Eleven hikers hiking
Ten monks swashbuckling
Nine strays relaxing
Eight cows a-snoozing
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.


On the twelth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
Twelve air-cons dripping
Eleven hikers hiking
Ten monks swashbuckl'ing
Nine strays relaxing
Eight cows a-snoozing
Seven roofs a-towering
Six trotters dangling
Five chicken wings!
Four jolly kids
Three furry friends
Two local gods...
And a tall glass of ice lemon tea.

Thank you for reading Land of no cheese.
I will be back in January!
Happy Christmas to all of you.

All content © Emilie Pavey
 




Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The north wind doth blow

I've been waiting for this moment. The Observatory has issued its first official Cold Weather Warning of the season. Here is an excerpt from said warning. Brace yourself.

           People are advised to put on warm clothes and to avoid
           adverse health effects due to the cold weather.
 
           If you must go out, please avoid prolonged exposure to
           wintry winds.

          Make sure heaters are safe before use, and place them away
          from any combustibles. Do not light fires indoors as a means
          to keep warm.

Ok, I've got out my scarf, gloves, and have responsibly locked away my wooden furniture to prevent myself from creating a spontaneous indoor bonfire in an irresponsible fit of chilliness! Bravely, I turn to face the arctic weather predictions for the next few days:

No, really! Single-digit temperatures! Brr.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Click, snap and be merry

In the name of Christmas cheer (and commercialism), public spaces like shopping malls and MTR stations have brought out the decorative heavy artillery.

The festive installations seem to have a magnetic effect.
People appear convinced that standing in front of them enhances their photogenicity. (Actually, maybe it does. Who wouldn't win an attractiveness contest against Goofy?)


Then again, why not... taking a photo is a way to create a fantasy world. Only I’d rather that Times Square or MTR Corp didn’t have a say in mine.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

有時候

In a not-altogether-justified flurry of optimism, my Chinese language teacher instructed me to write a poem for my homework. My valiant first attempt at Chinese rhyme can be read on her blog.

As the saying (from my textbook) goes, 只要工夫深,鐵杵磨成針 (anything can be achieved with perseverance) although I still have a long way to go before this lump of iron becomes sharp...

Friday, 10 December 2010

Poisson de décembre

Earlier this week, pictures of hundreds of shark fins laid out to dry on a pavement in Western District were posted online. This prompted the SCMP to run a story about the stench created by offending fins (as if the poor mutilated sharks were not attracting enough controversy already). However, the report also highlights the fact that wherever you go in this city, you're rarely far from a shrivelled kipper of some sort:
 
hanging out in the street (Kam Tin)

or unceremoniously dangling in a temple (Yuen Long)
Railings, benches and other forms of street furniture are also commonly occupied by frazzled finned (or de-finned) friends. Maybe they would make nice, fragrant Hong Kong-themed Christmas tree decorations. Hmmm.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

大雪

On Tuesday, I tore off a page of my Chinese calendar to reveal a picture of a young lady in a Father Christmas hat next to the words 'big snow'.


Of course, an almanac calendar that caters meteorologically for the world's largest population can't be 100% accurate. This being the very south of China, the previous fortnight had seen temperature still well in the 20s. The uncanny thing is that the Hong Kong Observatory had been predicting a sudden drop in temperature... also on Tuesday.


(For those of you in the north, this requires explaining: 15 degrees really is a cold snap here, as indicated by the downward pointing arrow and the glacial pictogram.)

I can confirm that the Calendar and Observatory's prognoses were correct. I have finally given in and taken my jacket out of storage.

Monday, 6 December 2010

The curious tale of the abandoned shrine painting

I have recently acquired a most unusual Chinese painting. My friend and I had noticed it a year ago in the old district where we used to live. It stood on the top of a display cabinet in a local mirror and framing shop which also sells fung shui knick-knacks. It was always there. I assumed it belonged to the shop, since it was different from everything else. It was interesting because it looked hand painted and depicted three different Chinese deities.

Walking past the shop after dinner one evening we decided to enquire. It was indeed hand painted - a traditional glass painting in fact - and also for sale, but the various family members in the shop were unable to tell us the price, claiming that they needed to consult then shop's patriarch, who was at that very moment taking a bath.

We returned at a more civilized hour the following week and were given a (somewhat reluctant) quote. However, they only accepted a deposit and told us to return in ten days. It seemed that this painting had been commissioned two years ago, paid for, yet never collected by its original buyer. The shop owners felt it was their duty to attempt to re-contact this former customer first.

The picture is by the entrance, on the left, on the top shelf

At this point, although we wanted the painting, it seemed as if fate, (or 天,)  would decide whether it would be ours or not. Passing the shop a few days later, we noticed that the painting was still sitting on the top shelf, but now covered with wrapping. Was the mysterious customer due to collect?

After ten days, my friend returned to the shop. It transpired that the family had been unable to contact either the customer, or even the local painter (in case the customer reappeared and demanded his painting, they might have been able to comission another one). Both appeared to have vanished without a trace. The painting was ours.

At that point, the shop owner told us that this painting is very unusual, and probably unique, because of the very three deities which had attracted our eye in the first place. They are the bodhisattva Guan Yin, the Chinese hero Guan Yu (the general Kwan which I wrote about earlier) and Bao Gong, another Chinese historical-mythological character promoted to god status, who essentially represents justice. Shrine paintings may feature a single deity, or multiples of three (though anything above six is uncommon, since the different deities may clash). The gentleman told us that although the three gods depicted in this painting get on just fine, it is very rare to see Mr. Bao and Mr. Kwan together.

Back at the flat with the painting, we were faced with a further conundrum: where it should go. Online literature on the subject seemed to rule out every possible location: (if you put it opposite the stairs, you may have an accident; if you put it near the TV, the god may be frightened; for this reason also, take care to polish the frame but never the face) This, added to the fact that the flat is minuscule, left very few suitable options. Right now it's sitting at an angle on the desk (the TV is there but never on!) where it's not really facing anything. I hope it's not draining away my qi or something.

Take a look at the bright, naive art. Bold colours, liberal gold and silver paint, and a ladleful of symbolism painted on the back of a glass pane. Stunning.

Guan Yin

Bao Gong and Guan Yu

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Friday, 3 December 2010

Light work

Can you guess what this chap is up to?
Scroll down for a clue...

Seems like a tall task for a small elf...

Locations: North Point and Admiralty

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Souffrir pour être belle

 “I don’t have the guts for surgery, but I still want to be pretty, so I have to make use of double eyelid tape”...

If you are a HK girl not blessed with a double eyelid, you may choose the sticky option:


Read my complete article here at the excellent Fat Quarter Magazine.
Thank you Katie!