Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ocean patrol

Little boys in the UK want to be a fireman when they grow up. Little boys in HK want to join the marine police.
It's easy to see why. You get to zoom around the outlying islands on a cool boat with lots of equipment and accost any suspicious-looking smaller craft potentially containing Chinese migrants or contraband.

Like here, in a remoter corner of Sai Kung...

... or here, near Tung Ping Chau (note the fishing net, presumably for handing over ID) within swimming distance of the mainland.

Police on dry land

Sunday, 24 April 2011


唐狗 = tong gau: chinese mongrel (literally 'Tang' dog, as in Tang Dynasty)

The tong gau is a familiar sight in the countryside. Many local dog owners favour pedigree dogs but tong gau come in all shapes and sizes and are undeniably loveable. Here are a few different doggy shades.

一.    咖啡色:

二.    黑色:

三.    黃色:

四.    白色:

If you are in Hong Kong and are thinking of adopting a dog, steer clear of pet shops, which get their pedigree puppies from dog farms, and consider adopting a tong gau from one of the many animal shelters, such as PALS in Lantau or DOG x G.O.D. in Sai Kung.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Electric blue

The 8pm ferry from Mui Wo to Central on Good Friday churned up extraordinary luminous blue patches in the foam of the waves.
Although intermittent, in places the neon blue was quite dazzling. Unfortunately, the fast-moving ferry and night conditions made it very difficult to capture on camera, so you'll just have to believe me. This video (not in HK) gives you an idea of what it looked like from the side of the boat.
The phenomenon is caused by bioluminescent plankton, if I am not mistaken. I wouldn't have known what it was if I hadn't read Alex Garland's The Beach as a teenager, and I certainly wouldn't have expected it to continue as far as the none-too-clean waters of Victoria Harbour!  This discovery is just another of Hong Kong's many surprises.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

This God will provide

At the south end of Repulse Bay beach is a fantastical public shrine with colours and mosaics of Gaudíesque aspiration. It features a giant statue of Tin Hau (Goddess of the sea), a longevity bridge (that extends your life by six seconds with every crossing), a wishing well with turtles swimming in it and an assortment of other talismans and effigies. Here's just one:
 A testament to Chinese folk religion? Yes... and no. This entire psychedelic complex was built in the 80s and donated, not by pious or superstitious locals, but by assorted British officials. Accordingly, unlike most Chinese statues and temples, the ones you'll find here have convenient little English-language plaques. Let's take a look at this chap's:

Mr Haddon-Cave found some appropriate sponsors, it seems.

Friday, 15 April 2011


Flat round wicker trays are useful for drying all kinds of edibles in the open air, most notoriously stinky shrimp paste in Tai O, Lantau island. Here are some others:

 Egg yolks in a public sitting-out area in Sai Kung town;

Unidentified Drying Objects - mushrooms? on a secret rooftop garden in Quarry Bay.

Yes, outdoor food drying doesn't just happen in rural areas, but at least in the city, you aren't as likely to accidentally sit on a tray of stale sardines in the community park.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Money coming in, innit

When it comes to auspicious names for businesses, it's good to have an address that is somehow related to wealth. Some enterprising developers attempt to tap into sophisticated-sounding affluence:

However, you don't have to be classy to be rolling in it:

I think only a Brit can appreciate the genius of this estate agency name. Correct me if I am wrong.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


A Sunday afternoon stroll through a New Territories village would not be complete without hearing the clatter of mahjong tiles through open doorways.

Between each round, the players shuffle the tiles around on the table noisily. However, one revolutionary gadget seeks to put an end to this racket:  the Mechanical Mahjong Mixing Machine!

A Java Road shop specialises in this marvel of quiet technology. Happily though, by the sound of things, it's slow to catch on...

 See one in action.


Which do you prefer?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Out of water

On Sunday morning, under the concrete pillars of the Island Eastern Corridor expressway at North Point,  unsuspecting fish are, as usual, being hooked out of their natural environment:

But a little further along, a fortunate few find themselves being tossed back in again:

During a recent trip to Cambodia, I saw caged birds being released as a Buddhist ceremony played out on the banks of the Mekong river.
Perhaps this is a more soggy and prosaic Hong Kong equivalent.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The power of wind and water

風水 = fung shui: wind-water

Ancient symbols bring favourable auspices to village homes.

With the added benefit of fending off negative chi from TV aerials.

So don't worry if your landlord decides to make a quick buck by installing a little forest of mobile phone masts on your roof. A stencilled octagon should do the trick.