Monthly Archives: November 2012

A not-so-secret garden. Also, a Buddhist nunnery.

Mostly a photo tour today, but a good one.

Last weekend, Cate and I took a short jaunt on the MTR, just three quick stops east on the Kwun Tong MTR line to Diamond Hill.

We were heading to two excellent sights, the Nan Lian Garden and the Chi Lin Buddhist Nunnery. Both of these are relatively recent creations, but they’re both done in ninth-century Tang style: impressively solid, dark-timbered buildings that surround spacious courtyards and pools. Oh, and the buildings don’t use any nails. (The Garden has a nice exhibit showing how the timbers are made to interlock. The short answer: with an exceptional level of craftsmanship.) Continue reading



Filed under Kowloon

China under construction

Last week Cate and I went on a short adventure to mainland China. Zhuhai is just across the Pearl River delta from Hong Kong, adjacent to Macau. It’s about a 70-minute ferry ride away. Oh look, here’s a map.

The first moment of hilarity was on the ferry ride over. China is well known as a producer and purveyor of fakes—errr, replicas. Copies. Tribute creations. You can’t walk down the main touristy thoroughfares of Hong Kong without offers of “copy watch, copy handbag,” and it’s even more out in the open and ubiquitous in the shopping centers of Shenzhen.

While it’s one thing to see knock-off Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolexes on offer, there’s something extra hilarious about the audio system in the Chu Kong Passenger Transport Co., Ltd.‘s ferry sporting an iTunes logo on its “MyGica” player.

Where have I seen that icon before?

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Filed under China, travel

Fire safety, Chinese-style

We found a couple of interesting lunch-box-sized containers in our Zhuhai, China hotel room last week.

I don’t read Chinese, but I’m guessing this is what it says: “In case of terrifying, metropolis-consuming conflagration, calmly put on this aluminum respirator and a thick, acid-wash denim jacket. Stand still. Breathe normally.”

The images of skyscrapers are for scale. The person wearing the fire helmet is actually 97 stories tall.

Fair enough.


Filed under Uncategorized

Strange banners

In the past few weeks, some puzzling banners have appeared in the high-traffic area of Tsim Sha Tsui. (For those interested, that’s pronounced “Chim Shah Choy” by Anglophones, which is actually a pretty good approximation of the Cantonese pronunciation.)

Labeled as the work of the harmless-sounding “Hong Kong Youth Care Association” (which has this benign website), the banners sport very strongly-worded slogans about Falun Gong. Continue reading


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Greyhound comes to town

There’s a new restaurant under construction in our mall. It’s called Greyhound Café.

Two things about this are noteworthy.

  1. They will serve Thai food. I like.
  2. They have no problem with trademark infringement. Continue reading

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Filed under food

Sheung Wan and Man Mo Temple

Last weekend we explored a bit around Sheung Wan, on Hong Kong Island. Sheung Wan is one of the old neighborhoods of Hong Kong Island. While the British were developing Central (just east of Sheung Wan), the Chinese population of 19th-century HK were developing Sheung Wan. Here’s a little map for you.

In Sheung Wan is Possession Point and Possession Street, which mark (you can probably see this coming) the spot where the British formally took possession of Hong Kong in 1841 near the end of the First Opium War. Behold:

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Filed under Hong Kong Island, temples


A couple of weekends ago we had the unique opportunity to attend the City University Banquet. This is an annual event put on by the Student Union, largely as a fundraiser but also in large part as a hell-raiser. (Hey now!) One of the open spaces, normally a rather staid taxi drop-off point near the gym and the main administration building, gets transformed into a giant sea of tables, with a stage at one end and massive sound and lighting gear all over. Here’s an overview:

On most days, this space is basically empty.

Some serious lighting. Some seriously loud audio.

Tickets to attend aren’t super expensive, but they aren’t super cheap either. My office purchased an entire table, so we were there with a bunch of colleagues.

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Festivity under construction

What’s slowly being constructed under festive red wrapping in the middle of Our Mall?

I’m pretty sure there’s a rocket under here.

What’s this merry platform?

It’s hard to resist the temptation to run up those steps and start singing “Sleigh Ride.”

Might it have anything to do with these giant bedazzled jellyfish descending from the ceiling to spread glad tidings with their gingerbread-spiced nematocysts ?

Swarovski® presents their latest creation, the Portuguese Man o’ Solstice (Physalia diei natalis). If it stings you, you have to pour champagne-spiked eggnog on the wound to stop the stinging.

The music hasn’t started yet, but soon, friends. Soon.


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Election day

The US Consulate had a very nice Election Day event on Wednesday. Yup, on Wednesday—because of the time difference (during standard time we’re 13 hours ahead of the East Coast), we had the rather pleasant experience of being able to “stay up” to watch the returns come in, and all the speeches get made, and then enjoy a mid-afternoon glass of champagne before heading off to dinner. It felt very civilized.

The event was intended principally for local college faculty to bring 10-12 of their students to witness Democracy In Action. So there was a mock voting booth, some speeches from the consul general, a pitch for students to consider studying in the US, and so on.

The student-to-balloon ratio was roughly 2:1.

The invitation had promised food that was “American fare,” so we were pretty excited about that. When we got to the consulate, we saw a Pizza Hut delivery moped outside and thought “It can’t be….” But it was! Pizza Hut pizza for all to enjoy. Cate got a slice, leaned down to take a bite, and recoiled. Imagine our dismay when we learned that, in Hong Kong style, the pizza had seafood on it. Sure, you can get clams casino pizza in New Haven, but come on. Continue reading


Filed under Uncategorized

Shenzhen, part 2

This post has taken a while to write.

The majority of our trip to Shenzhen, as I described in my last post, was a more-or-less wacky good time. It was a bit disorienting, to be sure, but we felt pretty much on solid ground—a little research and a good amount of time in HK had prepared us pretty well for the whole thing, and while the shopping experience was certainly surreal in some ways, it was still well within the realm of the ‘normal’ world.

But the entire atmosphere of Shenzhen, for whatever reason, gave me a vague sense of apprehension almost from the moment we crossed the border. It’s difficult to describe. There was no sense of immediate physical threat, nor pity, nor surveillance. Just a weird, latent tremor. Continue reading

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