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Category Archives: Travel

BookCrossing Gathering in Hong Kong

Sorry this post is a few months late, but back on March 20, 2010 I was in Hong Kong to meet with some BookCrossers. We met at a restaurant called Brunch Club & Supper, which serves an American menu, with salad, egg benedicts, crepes, sandwiches, appertizers, coffee and the like. It was a nice meetup, with several oldtimers (azuki, ktp28 and wandering-B) since the first Hong Kong meetup (about three years ago?), and a few new faces (criminologeek, penejoe and yukihosnow). Watakeet, who was the first HK BCer I met, was unfortunately not available but was 100% there in spirit. : ) Nice chat, lots of good books piled on the table, Wandering-B brought some book thongs and Azuki some labels, so everybody went home happy.

What’s more, we found that Brunch Club has two big mahogany bookshelves. (Is that mahogany? I have no clue, just some very awesome looking wooden bookshelves.) They are full of books, mostly English titles, as this is likely a place favorited by exprats longing for the taste of home. We spoke with the manager, explained what BookCrossing is, and with her blessing the shelves are now an Official BookCrossing Zone!!!

There’s well over a hundred titles on the shelves. We put some of our books on the shelf, and needless to say, my resolution of not taking books home totally crumbled. I haven’t visited many OBCZs, but I’d proudly say that this is probably among the biggest and best OBCZs. Oh how I wish I have an OBCZ closer to home! If I were to live in Hong Kong, I’d totally haunt that place.

So now Hong Kong has its first OBCZ, and a very nice one at that. Please come by for a visit when you have the opportunity!

Brunch Club is located at:
1st Floor, 13 Leighton Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: 2890-2125
http://www.brunch-club.org

The restaurant is an easy walking distance from the Causeway Bay MTR (subway) station.

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Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Asia, Books & Movies, Friends & Family, Travel

 

Spotted at the China Silk Museum

pass port

A passport from 1893.  Note the little explanatory note on top to get a feel how gigantic this thing is. 

dollar sign?

Am I the only one spotting a dollar sign on this oracle?? Is this the oldest dollar sign in the world?  Let me see: translation – they went camping in a little hut, roasted some marshmallow, got bitten by a snake so it was a darn expensive trip!

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2007 in Asia, photos, Travel

 

Chaiwan Race

The Chaiwan Race was held on June 17th Sunday.  This race was considerably bigger.

 

Men in Pink 

Soon after arrival, we saw this team of “Men in Pink” warming up.  It looks like the yoga dog posture? 

 

No festivities for Chinese can be without food.  Every time we turned around there was more food on the table. From fried rice, roasted duck, wonton soup, to on-the-spot stirred fried crabs, to exotics like beef tongue and pig ear, they ensured that paddlers were well fed.  Added to that unlimited booze. Yes, some paddlers got onto boat with a can of beer in one hand and a cigarette in another, determined to be fueled to the brim for top performance. 

50 men boat

 

The long boats seats 50 paddlers, and the head was decorated with calamus and other grass (traditionally gathered by a virgin boy but I heard not anymore).  These teak wood boats were crafted by the fishermen themselves and weigh a lot, but they cut through water like a sword.  As such a long boat is hard to turn around, backing up is done by paddlers switching directions instead. 

Broken Paddle 

A Broken Paddle. We saw quite a few.  But hey at HKD 20 each (USD 2.50) they are priced like disposables…

our cup

Well, here’s our cup!

beer

Call me naive but I never knew that this is the correct use of the cup until our Hong Kong friends demonstrated to us.  Keeps beer pretty cool too.

Raymond and Sum

beer

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, photos, Travel

 

Lamma Island Race

The Lamma Island race in Hong Kong was a traditional fisherman race, a gathering of different villages in the area.  We were ferried by a sampan to the race site.  Instead of team tents, there were team yachts or barges.  While traditionally women were not even allowed to touch a dragon boat, our team, Wing Ho from Cheung Chau Island, was generous enough to let us all join in the fun. 

 

Before the race, the dragon boat was paddled towards and away from the goddess temple thrice, as a form of “bowing” and asking for blessings.  Offerings such as Buddhist chants and “Hell Bank Notes” were also scattered into the sea. 

 

Seeing how we Americans are spoiled for creature comforts, our generous host built a step ladder for us to get in and out of the dragon boat, and erected a shade to keep us comfortable.  If we had stayed long enough on the boat, they may even build a toilet!! But for now, a quick dip in the water would have to suffice…

 

Unlike many of the Miami teams where the drummer is simply a light-weight person to fill the seat, in the Hong Kong races the drummer makes the call, albeit not vocally, but through the variation in drumming, to signal the change of pace and other commands.  It was exhilarating to paddle in unison with the drum beat pounding like our hearts.

 

The highlight of the race was the awards ceremony.  All teams paddled out in their own boats to the stage right on the shore.  The trophies and flags were handed over to the winning teams, who waved the flags in pride as they paddled away.  Meanwhile, the paddlers engaged in an all-out water fight.  We are not talking about polite splashing with paddles.  No, we mean 5 gallon buckets and 2” water hose with electrical pumps.  Someone dumped water into our boat, and we worked the hardest to dump it into some other boats.  I guessed the objective was to see if these boats can sink?  Or to cross train your arms and back muscle.  It felt like we were under Niagara. Amazingly, food and beer continued to be passed around.  And cigarettes too, I am sure… If I could keep my eyes open…

 

As the day was over and the teams headed back to their villages, towing their home-made dragon boats, you got a feeling that this is how the race has been done, for hundreds of years, for generation after generation…

 

lamm2

 

lamma

 

lamma 2

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, photos, Travel

 

Macau International Dragon Boat Race

As we headed on to Macau’s International Dragon Boat Festival, we took our seat on the spectator stand rather than on the boat.  It was another fascinating experience for us. 

Race site

The venue was an awesome inlet built for the purpose of dragon boating, with a calm, wide race course back dropped with the colorful blocks of casinos.  There were many close races, and even the slowest teams looked darn good.  The Filipino men’s team championed the race with a record of 1:52.89 for 500m!!  Two giant TV screens were set up to broadcast the races, playbacks and results.  We watched the races with thousands of spectators, of all ages and nationalities, including families with children and Filipino workers rooting for their country.  As people stood up with excitement, as our screams were lost in the crowd, as people clapped and cheered, we got swept up in the moment of exhilaration and enthusiasm, and thought, ah, this is what dragon boating is like! 

Interview

We got interviewed by a local TV station.

DB statue

Nice Butts!!

macau tower

Macau Tower

macau4.jpg

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, photos, Travel

 

How to Paddle Dragon Boat Hong Kong Style

1. Unlimited booze and cigarette is crucial for good performance.  In fact, it is encouraged that you keep smoking and drinking till the boat takes off.  People will throw cans at you to make sure you remain hydrated.

2. Just grab a paddle and pick your seat.  Get onto the boat whichever way you like.  Climb the ladder down, jump into the water and haul yourself up, step on from another boat…

3. If you need to pee, just take a one minute swim.

4.  Plenty of food between heats.  Roasted pig, stir-fried crabs, BBQ duck, chicken, spring rolls, wanton soup, fish… and a big bowl of rice or noodle. After EVERY race.

5. If you need to back paddle, just turn around, move your butt onto the seat in front of you and start paddle forward facing the tail.

6. The trophy makes a nice beer mug as the metal keeps the beer cold…

7. Bailer is useful for splashing water onto other teams.  5 gallon buckets are preferrable.  Weapon of choice is a 1.5″ hose (from the pump that is working overduty to empty the boat of water being dumped into our own boat). 

We all agree that we should bring some of  these great traditions back to Miami.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2007 in Asia, Dragon Boat, Travel

 

Weird Food in China

Okay, I suppose no traveler to China can refrain from talking about the weird food they eat there.   Even for someone used to werid food like I am.

Bunny Marshmallow

Starting with something very benign.  Just cute, fluffy, little marshmallows shaped like bunnies.

cocoon

Next level up.  I pulled my friends’ legs and said it’s a cocoon, but it’s really a candy.  Coconut, sesame and sugar wrapped in spun sugar. It’s called dragon beard candy and is a childhood favorite of mine, though it’s hardly found on the streets of Hong Kong anymore.  It has to be eaten fresh or the “beard” dries up and hardens.   I was delighted to find them all over Hangzhou but didn’t see them at all in Beijing.

Now ready?

Yuck food

Scorpions, centipedes, lizards and what not found on the night market of Hangzhou.  The same street we found those delicious cocoons.

Marc, Raul and I were actually quite hungry at that point, having found nothing to eat except a Dairy Queen which we refused.  And there is a limit to how many cocoons I could take as a prelude to a real meal.   The kabob place did have more ordinary offerings such as beef or lamb kabobs, but the guys didn’t feel like their food sharing the grill with bugs and pests.  We saw a McDonald’s, decided to go hungry instead, and finally stumbled upon an alley with lots of normal food. Normal relatively anyway. Raul had a bamboo rice, which is rice and other ingredients stuffed inside a bamboo and steamed, Marc had something with duck blood, and I had a dan dan noodle.

Dog Meat

This is a pack of five spiced dog meat sold on the train.

Wangfujian

Saw this at Wangfujian. Ehm… Hey, give me one strawberry w kiwi and one scorpion.  Yup, dip both in chocolate please… Not that I would order cut fruit on the street, but uhm…   Wangfujian is the place to go to for weird food – they have even more variety – starfish kabob, snake kabob… although you don’t see any locals eating them.  They were all happily munching on normal food.  I suspect the fear-factor food are just there to attract tourists.   That said, they have plenty of offerings to fill any stomach, even a vegetarian one. 

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2007 in Asia, Food, photos, Travel