Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bell the bikers

Back from our Easter eatfest, Buffalo Wilbur and I decided to go for a walk to burn off the fat. It was supposed to be a leisurely hike; I never thought we'd be taking our lives into our hands.

We were almost mowed down by a couple of cyclists careening down the hills in breakneck speed without any warning. Thankfully, Buffalo Wilbur managed to whisk me out of the way in time or I don't think you'll be seeing any posts from me anytime soon.

By the way, the photo above is not of those cyclists. I was too busy checking for broken bones to get a picture of the real culprits.

I am all for sharing the trails with mountain bikers. But what I don't understand is, why do they never have bells on their bikes? The village folks have them and use them indiscriminately (word to the wise – pedestrians and not bikes should have right of way on those narrow paths).

Maybe having bells are not cool on off-road bikes but neither is sending innocent hikers flying off the edge of the cliff. So for courtesy sake, can we have more warning please?

Or, if it's too much of a bother ringing a bell while trying to navigate an out-of-control bike, maybe we could just have a bell that warns of a bike approach, like those on cows and cats.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You tell 'em, Samantha!

Every time I look out of the window and see the small ferry waiting to take me to work, it puts me in a bad mood. "Let it go," Buffalo Wilbur keeps saying.

I know, I know, it's a small grumble try but it does get me rant-y.

Thank goodness I am not alone. Way to go, Samantha!

SCMP letter: Ferry change backward move

I would like to raise a question with New World First Ferry regarding the 8.30am fast ferry from Mui Wo to Central.

On one occasion it put one of the smaller boats on this run as opposed to the regular catamaran.

Passengers accepted this as sometimes there are boat faults and it is understandable. However, since April 1, when First Ferry increased passenger fares from HK$25.50 to HK$28.40, it has been a smaller boat on the 8.30 route.

Could the company please explain the increase in cost and the decrease in passenger consideration?

The smaller ferries are obviously less comfortable, often have an unpleasant odour and are invariably more cramped.

Why should it have changed firstly when the prices have been increased and secondly given that the catamaran has been the regular 8.30 ferry for a considerable period of time? Surely the commuters who use this ferry service deserve better than this?

Samantha Bell, Lantau

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mui Wo on TV

If you missed the BBC Working Lives documentary on Tom and his Caffe Paradiso (with lots of shots of Mui Wo looking absolutely the place everyone wants to live in), the trailer and parts of the documentary are on Youtube:

This is Part One.

This is Part Two

Sale at Bizzie Lizzie

You don't need to have a kid (or be one) to go crazy at Bizzie Lizzie's sale. Buffalo Wilbur had to be dragged out of the store before he bought everything.

Liz has been selling the stuff at super low prices already but, just for the final day, she has slashed the sale prices by another 50 percent.

Thank goodness for the sale. It's a wet, stay-indoors kind of day so assembling his boy's toys will keep him occupied all afternoon.

You'd better hurry, though, the sale ends today (Sunday). After that, everything goes to a children's charity.

We went there twice – and it looked like a plague of locusts had descended in the intervening hour or so in between our visits.

Bizzie Lizzie is on the G/F, Shop C, Seaview Building, 1 Ngan Wan Road (that's the row with the microbrewery and Gordon's).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

All swapped out

I am a swap meet convert. Especially as I can get the same shopping high but without having to spend any money.

China Beach Club was heaving today with people attending the Transition South Lantau swap party.

You would have thought that, as the swapping was on a one-for-one basis regardless of cost, all you'd get would be cheap junk. But there were amazingly good stuff there, some brand new with tags.

Check out those pretty sandals I got – perfect for summer. And free!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What do you do when a buffalo charges

No, I really wouldn't have thought of that!

Here's a totally tasteless joke.
Q: What do you do when a buffalo charges?
A: You leave a tip (ba da boom)

Enter the dragon

The Dragon Boat Festival starts on June 6 this year but already we can hear the rhythmic drums of the dragon boaters practising, some well into the night.

I've always wondered who makes these boats: Are they made in Hong Kong or bought ready-made from across the border as we do most of our stuff?

Today, on our walk, I got my answer. They make them in Shap Long... or at least, they are lacquered there.

This guy was puzzled as to why I was so excited about seeing him paint a boat but he gamely agreed to the photos.

Clam bake

The sun is out and the temperatures are soaring again – which means it's time for the clam diggers to come out in full force.

The muddy, sandy sea bed of Silvermine Bay is home to thousands of these tiny creatures, which like to hide just beneath the surface. The old-timers know exactly just how to ply a rake to get enough for a family meal.

Those who want to try their hand at it can rent the equipment at one of the stalls by the beach.

Or you can do what most locals do – order some at Wah Kee Seafood Restaurant. Clams with black bean sauce... yums!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No rehab school after all?

Yay! Do I hear "international school" now?

I'm hoping some ESF school moves in before the drug rehab school starts complaining that it's running out of space again.

From RTHK today:

New twist in drug rehab centre saga

There's been a new development in the long-running dispute about the proposed relocation of a drugs rehabilation centre on Lantau.

The Christian Zheng Sheng College has been seeking to move into a disused school building in Mui Wo - but it's been opposed by local residents, who say they want the school for the village children.

The legislator for the education sector, Cheung Man-kwong, says the government has now agreed to fund an expansion of the college near its current remote location on the Chi Ma Wan pensinsula.

A temporary two-storey structure will be built on a 5,000 square metre site. Mr Cheung said this would give the students an improved environment.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Swap party, anyone?

I must admit the idea of swap meets bring out all my insecurities.

What if no one likes my things? What if no one wants to swap with me? Will I then have to slink home with all my stuff in shame?

It makes me feel like a weedy kid waiting to be picked for a team.

Thank goodness China Beach Club's Swap Party (4 to 6pm this Saturday) is not like that at all.

It's like a jumble sale but without money. You put all your unwanted goods on the table, get as many tickets as you have stuff and use those tickets to "buy" the things you want.

This could be interesting.

I think I'll need one of China Beach Club's yummy apple crumble to fortify myself before plunging into the fray.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Peng Chau – by accident

We thought we'd taken the ferry back from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo but forgot there was another kaido service to Peng Chau. Our first inkling that something was wrong was that the fare was just HK$10+ instead of the HK$30 for two we'd paid on the way there.

But luckily, we'd left enough time for exploring so the unexpected detour didn't stress us out... much. I've always wanted to visit Peng Chau but I'd thought it would have been a planned trip.

It was interesting to see how the different island destinations – Mui Wo, Lamma, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau – have their own character. I think Mui Wo is the most charming but of course, I am biased.

Maybe it was the lack of time or the fact that it was an unplanned trip but I didn't quite take to Peng Chau. It looked like what all the islands might look like if the local councils had their way – ugly concrete municipal offices right smack on the waterfront overshadowing the characterful streets and shops behind.

But the snacks were yummy so maybe we might return for a proper trip one day.

Discovery Bay flea market

I love flea markets. Oh and did I say, I love flea markets?

The Discovery Bay flea market gave me weeks of anticipation.

And to think that, were it not for Jacqui's poster for PALS, I might not even have known it was coming up – I have no idea why the DBay management aren't very good at publicising this much-anticipated event. (The next one, by the way, is on June 26).

We got the early ferry and were there in time for the opening by noon... which meant lots of great buys. To the folks who donated the slightly singed but still useable Le Creuset to PALS, thank you, it has found a good home!

The huge crowds showed how popular the flea market was. And that got me wondering why Mui Wo doesn't have something similar.

We have such a great expanse of unused space at the cargo pier, which we can use for a unique flea market with the sea as a background. Or we can close the road outside Bahce and have a huge fair every month or so.

It will bring so many people to the area... and put Mui Wo on the map. So whom do I have to persuade?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

DBay ferry times

For those of us wanting to go to the flea market tomorrow.

Excuse my crap photo taking but the column on the right is when the kaido leaves Mui Wo and Note 2 says "Sundays and public holidays only".

I wish they'd give out little booklets of the times so I don't have to run down to the pier for a quick check every time we plan a trip there.

Smoke gets in our eyes

Buffalo Wilbur and I were enjoying the fresh air of our regular walk when, choke, gasp, we walked straight into a cloud of acrid smoke close to Shap Long.

The area is home to a handful of rundown houses that we thought were abandoned... but obviously weren't.

We had spotted the burnt patches of rubbish before but this was the first time we actually spotted the fires going, along with the firestarter – a fierce looking man who glared at me taking the photos.

I suspect he wasn't burning his own rubbish but the floatsam and jetsam from the beach but even so, isn't this illegal? Especially when the fire warning was amber and we'd passed at least two banner telling us about the dangers of hill fires.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time for a spring clean

Buffalo Wibur and I are still living among boxes close to a year after moving in. So we took the poster from PALS (Protection of Animals Lantau South) as a wake-up call to reduce the junk. By the way, that photo is from our friendly community website, Lantau Link.

So we have decluttered, got one box of stuff which Jacqui very kindly drove up to collect.

Now we am feeling very virtuous. As the wankmeisters would say, it's a win-win situation: Your home gets cleared and the animals get food and shelter.

I highly recommend this as a cleansing exercise. You'll feel really refreshed afterwards.

Only thing is, we are planning to drop by the flea market this Sunday (Noon to 5pm at the DBay Piazza). The clutter may just come back...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bring back the big ferries

Here's a sight that would gladden the heart of any ferry operator: a jam-packed ferry.

Well, it would be, wouldn't it, if you have a small ferry taking commuters to work during peak hours?

My heart and stomach always sink at the sight of a small ferry because it means a claustrophobic, seasick-inducing ride that's guaranteed to put me in a bad mood for the entire workday.

I am not alone. There have been grumbles galore since NWFF put on the small ferry about a fortnight ago.

This move coincided with the raising of ferry fares. So we're paying a higher fare for this?

Silvermine Beach Hotel up for grabs

The Silvermine Beach Hotel is ripe for redevelopment. It has so much potential: an amazing location right on the beach, a growing number of visitors willing to try something beyond Central-TST and an expat population looking for something a bit upmarket to hold celebrations and parties.

It's looking a bit shabby and dated at the moment. Just take a look at the hotel-provided photo of a guestroom - that bedspread is so '80s.

Hopefully someone will come along and make the most of this distressed asset.

If I had HK$280 million, I would...

Here's the article from The Standard:

Door opens to owning landmark hotel

Prospective buyers of the Silvermine Beach Hotel may be looking at more than a few possibilities for the site.

The landmark tourist hotel on Lantau Island - being sold by HYFCO Properties for around HK$280 million - has 128 generous-sized rooms and sports and leisure facilities, and can be repositioned as a conference or training center.

It may also be turned into a five-star spa, away from the hustle and bustle of urban Hong Kong. CB Richard Ellis, the agent for the sale, believes the site also has great redevelopment potential: "Silvermine has an area of more than 80,000 square feet, allowing for a low- density redevelopment in its setting of beach, sea and mountain."

In other words, it may be a gold mine.

Just the ticket

There are very few privileges for Mui Wo locals compared to the day trippers.

We pay the same ferry fares. And even the monthly tickets (which give you two returns on the ordinary ferry a day) are not that good value - being roughly the same price as two ordinary ferry tickets anyway.

But I am forever indebted to my Mui Wo guru who let me in on a secret: On Sundays and public holidays, when the ferry fares are a whopping HK$12.40 more each way, Mui Wo residents can buy the Holiday Return Ticket.

The ticket allows you to take two trips on the ferry for weekday prices. It costs HK$42.90 and you top up the difference if you return on a fast ferry.

But it saves you almost HK$25 if you, like me, sometimes have to work on Sundays and public holidays. That's enough for a pair of bermudas at the Salvation Army store.

The trick is to remember to use it on the way back. I have paid double a few times because I went into reflex action and immediately used my Octopus for the return journey. Ouch!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shoe sample sale!

Mui Wo has never seen so much excitement. Sample sale of Italian shoes... be still my heart!

The shoes are being sold guerilla-shop style by Octavia, who lives in Luk Tei Tong. Her brother is in the fashion business. They buy the samples from Italy and ship them back once a year so she gets a huge supply of samples to sell in Mui Wo.

Last year, she sold them in the village but this year, she's been lucky enough to get a shop opposite ParkNShop, a few doors away from Renge House. Well, that's lucky for us too.

As I entered, one woman came dashing out, chanting: "Better leave, better leave." Turns out she'd bought 20 pairs already and if she'd stayed any longer, she'd have bought 20 more.

The shoes are priced from HK$50 upwards and, in true bargain fashion, the prices go down the more pairs you buy.

Those funky boots you see above were HK$350... but, as most things there are one-off, I doubt you'll be seeing those in the shop anymore because I bought them.

Octavia will open the store till May 1, or until she runs out of stock.