Monday, January 30, 2012

Special shrimp paste

Mention Tai O and the locals will go: "Ah, har cheong!" The place is known for its very aromatic (some will say smelly) shrimp paste that goes with virtually anything – some have it with beancurd. To find the place, turn left at Tai O Market and continue walking past the public toilets. You will soon find a very distinctive smell pervading the air.

The ground-up shrimp is left to ferment in blue containers until it becomes this smooth paste that is packed with umami.

Some go into bottle while others are dried in blocks.

I'd think I were in heaven too if I were a cat.

Tai O on a sleepy Monday

I had a day off today so we went on a photo frenzy in Tai O. It's great going there on a weekday because the crowds thin and you get to see bits of the town you don't normally go to and see activity that doesn't usually happen over the weekend.

Like the building of the lift that will connect the luxury hotel that will open at the former Tai O police station. Doesn't that remind you of the Peak Tram?

The shy cats don't need to hide as there are fewer visitors.

View from the Dolphin Watch trail.

Refueling. Squid with spicy salt, egg with salted egg yolks, sweet sour pork. There was roast pork too but we were so hungry we ate that before we thought of taking photos.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oh oh... someone's in big trouble!

But I guess it's really the fault of the vegetable patch owner for not keeping the fence in good repair.

Silvermine Beach Resort shows some initiative

Good to see the new management of Silvermine Beach Resort taking some initiative to advertise the hotel.

Never mind that the first time he saw it, Buffalo Wilbur thought: "Great, Mui Wo has an brothel."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How to invite a lion to dance

During Chinese New Year, there will be lots of itinerant lion dance troupes wandering the area in search of patrons.

If you want to invite one to perform in your home/shop, just hang a lettuce and a lai si above your door. The higher the better – in the old days, the dancers were so skillful they could extract the red packet from three/four stories up.

The lion will "chew" the lettuce, grab the red packet and unroll the scroll of blessing to ensure good luck in your premises all year round.

Kids just love them.

Lion dance drums

Woke up to the lion dance drums today. As Mui Wo is surrounded by mountains, it's impossible to miss the drumming as the lion troupe goes round the town.

The drummers decide the lion's movements.

There are two basic beats: The syncopated rhythm is for playing.

And the drum roll is for bowing and paying respects.

Once you know that, you'll know, without having to look, what the lion is doing.

Will upload photos in the next post.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Can normal service resume already?

I like living in a tourist destination.

But I almost missed my ferry home today because of the huge number of tourists, both local and from abroad, taking advantage of the long Chinese New year holidays – and blocking my way to the pier.

To be fair, they were just being tourists.

They ambled along the overhead bridge, taking photos and generally looking gormless. They came to abrupt stops at the head of stairs to change direction, causing those behind them to collide like dominoes.

And on the ferry, they paused just beyond the gangplank, blocking others behind them, as they dithered over where to sit.

Those pushing past them stumbled on pull-along bags others had carelessly left on the aisle.

How I miss the savvy ferry commuters who have internalised the unwritten rules: give way to people in a hurry on the overhead bridge, pay by Octopus, head straight for your usual seat, don't take up the entire row...

Ah well, hopefully normal service will resume on Monday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Village CNY decorations

I think this year, Ham Tin wins the MuiWoandMe award for best decorated village.

Maybe the sun being out when I was there played a big part. The colours were just so vivid.

Wang Tong village.

Pak Ngan Heung village.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Facelift consultation

I had a colleague who used to say: "Give me your honest opinion" when what he really meant was: "Tell me how wonderful I am."

Government consultations in Hong Kong always feel like that. The organisers don't really want to hear your honest opinion; they want you to tell them how good their plans are.

At today's public consultation on Mui Wo's facelift, they spread out all these print-outs in glorious colour and basically wanted to know (a) or (b). It was like a multiple-choice exam in school – which one of our amazing ideas do you think is more amazing? They didn't want an essay on what Mui Wo people really thought.

People were asking: "Why are you 'beautifying' the bit of Mui Wo that has already had a facelife rather than do real facelifts on the ugly bits – ie everything to the left of the ferry pier like the lorry park and... oh yes, the town itself."

The answer: "Oh this is Phase I." A Phase I that seems to have gone on for five years while everywhere else falls into disrepair.

After half an hour, I left. I had more effective ways to spend my Saturday afternoon... such as hang out the clothes and update this blog.

Buffalo Wilbur, bless his cotton socks, is soldiering on and hoping to make a difference.

Friday, January 13, 2012

You'd have thought he'd have melted by now...

Frosty the snow man
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye saying,
"Don't you cry,
I'll be back again some day."

Not in Mui Wo, it seems. Here, Frosty stays beyond the 12 days of Christmas, possibly thanks to the La Nina effect.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Slow ferry ride

Sometimes I like taking the slow ferry because it gives me time to daydream as the lights of Hong Kong Island slip away.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Flea marketing at DBay

The washing machine is working overtime again – because of all the great buys I got from the Discovery Bay flea market.

It was our first outing in a long time since our bout of the winter sniffles. But how could I miss this?

Buffalo Wilbur noted that even if I were bedridden, I'd command a wheelchair and still make my way there.

The PALS corner, along with the other charity stalls, are my still my favourites. They always have the most eclectic mix of stuff.

Here are some of my spoils for the day. Good stuff, I tell you.

For those who missed this one, the next is on April 15.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Winter sniffles

If you're *coff coff* wondering why I have gone all quiet *coff coff* it's because the winter cold has *coff coff* set in. The whole family - apart from the cat - has come down with a bad case *ah choo* of the sniffles.

Even the *coff coff* ferries have a new welcome announcement, telling people to cover their noses and mouths when *ah choo* coughing or sneezing. *excuse me*

We have been *coff coff* surviving on chicken soup for the past week. I know you're supposed to *ah choo* boil an entire chicken but I was too wiped out to cut up a chicken.

Here's my recipe for a simple chicken soup.

4 drumsticks (that's all they had at Park N Shop)
1 onion
3 sticks of celery
10 baby carrots
2 potatoes, cubed
4 tomatoes (optional but they add a nice sourness to the soup)
1 litre water
1 bay leaf
Sprinkle of tarragon

1) Brown the onions and chicken parts in as little oil as possible.
2) Add vegetables, soften.
3) Add water, bay leaf and tarragon.
4) Simmer for 2 hours.
5) Skim off scum, add salt to taste, serve.

The soup is perfect for sick cooks because you can bung everything in, turn the heat right down and nap for a bit. It goes well with Kit's crusty bread from The Kitchen.