Sunday, February 27, 2011

Has someone been naughty?

How did this car make it into the Pak Ngan Heung square?

I thought the only access road into the village is emergency vehicles only.

Unless it climbed the steps from Man Mo temple?

Rush hour in Mui Wo

A busy Saturday afternoon at the bus terminal. How can you not love this place?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

BBC's Working Lives documentary

Watched the Working Lives: Hong Kong documentary featuring Tom from Caffe Paradiso and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mui Wo looks so lovely in the photos that I'm betting there's going to be a few more day-trippers on that ferry tomorrow.

For those of you who missed it, there's another telecast at 9.30pm on Sunday on BBC World (also at 4.30am if you're looking for something to watch after your Saturday night booze-up).

Notice anything missing?

How is it that the popular stretch of the waterfront opposite China Bear (which incidentally has lots of kids and dogs playing) doesn't have a single life buoy?

I presume no one has fallen in before so no one has thought of scattering a few along the sides.

But one little misstep (or a runaway skateboard) and that could all change.

I'm not asking for ugly railings. We have more than enough of those defacing the countryside. But one or two life buoys won't come amiss.

Or does everyone in Mui Wo know how to swim?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sneak preview of documentary!

Some scenes from Working Lives documentary on BBC World featuring Tom from Caffe Paradiso. Looks like Bosco and Ding Ding make guest appearances.

Don't forget to watch -- 3.30pm this Saturday or 9.30pm on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grrr, small ferries again

Regus, which provides serviced and virtual offices, recently did a survey and found that an average commute for Hongkongers are 29.2 minutes. The global average is 29.

Only 13 percent -- those of us in the Outlying Islands I can imagine -- have to travel over 45 minutes each way. (Mine, by the way, takes one and a half hours each way).

The main stress of commuting are delays, service interruptions, pollution, overheating, loud mobile phone conversations, rude behavior from other passengers, dangerous drivers, and bad smells from other commuters.

They should add "small ferries" to that list.

Okay, you may say I am spoilt and that I should be grateful there even is a ferry to get me to Central in 25 minutes rather than the Mui Wo-Tung Chung-Central route which will take me an hour at least.

But I really really hate the small fast ferries.

What's wrong with them? They're cramped and claustrophobic, too small to take the regular commuters going to work. We all have to squeeze into every available seat (thus risking the other stresses like bad smells and loud mobile phone conversations).

Plus they're less stable than the big ones so, old hand though I am, I still end up seasick by the time we get into Central.

I suspect our regular big ferry has been given to the profitable Cheung Chau route as First Ferry is a ferry short after one collided with a pilot boat a week or so ago.

So the situation is only temporary, I hope.

In the meantime, it's back to accupressure bands and bottles of sour plum every morning for me. Bah!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Free(ish) seating

When we first moved to Mui Wo, Buffalo Wilbur warned me to watch myself on the ferry during the daily commute. "You might find yourself sitting in unofficial reserved seats."

And I did. I got a few dirty looks from regulars who saw certain seats as "theirs". But I quickly learned the pecking order and now I have my favourite seats too.

It's quite simple, really.

The suits go for the centre rows, which are the most stable. Time is money so the moment they get in, they open their newspapers, iPads or laptops to squeeze in half an hour of useful work. This is the place for networking too.

The mothers and eaters take the aisle seats, which give easy access to the dustbins and the loos.

The sleepers make a beeline for the window seats. They plonk themselves in, close their eyes and grab a quick nap. Being by the window means no one will be disturbing their beauty sleep.

Occasionally, like today, though, we get the smaller ferry. Then all natural order is overturned as everyone rushes for whatever seat they can find.

I find it unsettling when that happens... which goes to show how much I have gotten into the routine already.

Now get off my seat.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fortune favours the shameless

Thank goodness the rain has stopped. To celebrate, Buffalo Wilbur and I went for a quick stroll around Chung Hau village.

Remember how I said there's always something going on in Mui Wo? We hadn't gone very far when Buffalo Wilbur spotted a guy dressed as the God of Fortune walking around the village.

I reasoned that where there's a God of Fortune, there's fortune to be made. So we hung around shamelessly trying to catch his eyes.

We were in luck. He gave us chocolate coins with a face value of 2 euros. Success!

Just my kind of shop

I have often maintained Mui Wo needs a shop for impulse buys -- like the ones you see lining Yung Shue Wan Main Street in Lamma. The kind where most things are below HK$100 so day trippers (and residents) can go in and feed their shopaholic tendencies with an accessory or two.

So I was absolutely ecstatic when Buffalo Wilbur told me of Renge House (Shop H, Sea View Building. Tel: 2406-8122) opposite Park N Shop.

The location isn't ideal. Impulse buyers normally stick to the McDonald's row or the cluster of stalls next to the public toilet. But hopefully, the range of cutesy stuff might tempt some to walk beyond the main street.

Run by a lovely couple (Aoso is from Japan, her husband is from Hong Kong and they have an adorable rosy-cheeked baby boy), the shop is full of stuff I want to buy: quirky T-shirts at two for HK$80, crinkly scarves for HK$38, Korean accessories at two for HK$100... I even managed to placate Buffalo Wilbur with a solar torch that fit on his keychain.

My worry now is earning fast enough to afford everything in the shop.

Rain, rain go away

Mui Wo is made for sunny weather -- so much so that, when it rains, almost everything comes to a halt. Usually, the weekend ferries are packed with day-trippers eager to for a swim or barbecue on the beach but today, only a handful of hardy ones came off the ferry.

Shopkeepers say January and February are the quietest months of the year and I can see why. The sea is a flat grey and the mountains look quite gloomy. We have to switch on the lights as early as 4pm.

The weathermen call it a "replenishment" of the northeast monsoon and the cold-weather warning is up. Last week, they were saying the monsoon would ease and the cold-weather warning lifted. Now, it's 10C (colder in the New Territories yadda yadda), with mist and rain.

Buffalo Wilbur is humphing because he's been denied his usual Saturday hike. And I am humphing because I am stuck in our tiny flat with Grumplestiltskins.

On the plus side, we have two heaters going and our electric blanket. Buffalo Wilbur, the cat and I are all cuddled on the daybed watching movies, eating leftover Chinese New Year goodies and drinking lots of tea. It's all quite cosy.

But I still wish the sun would shine again.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tom's on TV!

We seem to have no end of celebrities in Mui Wo.

There's cartoonist Larry Feign ( of The World of Lily Wong fame) who lives in a house I drool over in Wang Tong. There's Mok Kau Moon, also known as the Doufufah Uncle, who has been featured in CNN Go and also has his own video for sale.

And now, a little bird tells me Tom from Caffe Paradiso has been interviewed for a BBC documentary called Working Lives, to be screened on the weekend of February 26.

I am going to find out more. Will keep you posted.

Update: The screening times have been confirmed. It's Saturday 3.30pm and Sunday 4.30am and 9.30pm on BBC World. They are also screening it on BBC News in the UK. The schedule is here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enter the lion

We were going out for our usual hike today when we heard the sounds of drums getting louder and louder. Turns out a lion dance troupe was going around Mui Wo bestowing Chinese New Year blessings on all the businesses (for a big fat lai see of course).

Told you there's always something happening in town.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Back to work

The ferry was full today -- but mainly with mainland Chinese tourists ooh-ing and ahh-ing every time we hit a big wave. It was quite funny.

The office was half empty. Clients also were non-contactable.

Post Chinese New Year blues, I wondered?

No, it's for fung shui reasons, said my colleague. Apparently, Monday is not an auspicious day to start work so many offices remain closed until tomorrow.

Only in Hong Kong can fung shui dictate when you open your office again.

I wonder if a big fat lai see can make up for dragging myself into work today.