Friday, February 29, 2008

Tofu as well as movie and music talk!

A stall in Central's Graham Street market
that sells lots of different types of tofu

The issue of bc magazine that came out in print on yesterday (and whose on-line version was loaded onto the internet earlier today) is one that took quite a bit out of me. 'Why's that?' I hear you ask. To which I'll simply reply by pointing out that the following sections of the magazine are among those written by moi:-

i) Tofu Talk -- a four page feature article that's my first food focused piece for the magazine;

ii) This Dennis is No Menace -- interview with Dennis Law, director, scriptwriter and producer of Category III-rated actioner Fatal Move;

The Sun Shines On -- arts feature piece on the Sun of Latin Music, Eddie Palmieri;

iv) Messiaenic Woman -- arts feature piece on pianist Joanna McGregor and the formidable piece of music that she will be performing at the Hong Kong Arts Festival on March 8;

v) Belle of the Universe -- interview with TV Carpio (daughter of Theresa and one of the stars of Julie Taymor's mesmerizing Across the Universe);

vi) Review of Shamo -- Soi Cheang's Category IIB-rated latest;

vii) Review of I Could Never Be Your Woman -- romantic-dramedy starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd;

viii) Review of Vantage Point -- The number one movie at the US (but not Hong Kong) box office this past weekend;

ix) This issue's Editor's Diary;

x) This issue's entire bumper Live Music section; and even

xi) This issue's Competitions page! ;S

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More 2007 movie viewing lists

One of my favorite Hong Kong movies of 2007 --
and one of five (partly, if not completely) Hong Kong films
which also made my overall top ten 2007 movies list

Back at the beginning of this year, I wrote up a 2007 movie viewing list of sorts on this blog but unlike for 2006, I actually had not put up a Top Ten movies list of any kind for 2007. Furthermore, I've belatedly realized that -- again, unlike with last year -- I didn't offer this blog's readers a sneak peek at my "Best of..." list for the Mobius Home Video Forum.

Alternatively, something new this year that I'm able to offer up is a link to the lists of nominations for the 13th Annual Awards that I'm on the panel for. (For the record, this the first time that Kozo, the webmaster of has assembled a panel for the awards). And maybe some of you might like to use these lists when considering what Hong Kong movies you plan to check out some time.

Additionally, since the results of the Unofficial Mobius 2007 (Best Films (and DVDs)) Poll are now out, here's taking the opportunity to not only link to the poll results but also draw some more attention to the top ten movies list I assembled for it over in this blog entry:-

1) RATATOUILLE (U.S.A., 2007)

Call it the ET effect if you will. But what gets me convinced that this feel-good Pixar animation is so very wonderful is that I went from thinking – prior to viewing the movie – that its rat protagonist looked disgusting to deciding – post viewing the work – that it really was very lovable and utterly worth rooting for!


Nothing beats the experience of viewing a comedy with a thoroughly receptive audience. So part of me wonders whether I would have loved this hilariously screwball time-travel comedy from director Baba Yasuo as much as I did if I hadn’t viewed with the (2007 Hong Kong International Film Festival) crowd that I did; one that was guffawing away like there was no tomorrow throughout the screening. Still, it’s not like HKIFF audiences are usually that easy to please. So, I’m going to give this movie the benefit of the doubt and believe that it really is super funny and enjoyable in its own right!

3) CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER (Mainland China-Hong Kong, 2006)

This visually sumptuous historical epic was released in cinemas at the tail end of 2006 in Malaysia (and Hong Kong) but it continued its theatrical run in these territories through to at least January 2007. Although this hyper-dramatic work certainly can make for a study in excess, what I particularly liked about it is that director Zhang Yimou managed to ensure that its grand scale didn’t detract all that much from the domestic melodrama that was chillingly laid bare over the course of the film.

4) ZODIAC (U.S.A., 2007)

Well-written, beautifully shot, well-acted (by an all-round strong cast) and thoughtfully presented procedural turned thriller with a couple of genuinely hair-raising moments. Maybe the strongest praise I can give this David Fincher-helmed work is that I found it so involving that time flew by when I watched it, and so much so that it came as a bit of a shock to realize that the film’s actually as long (158 minutes) as it is!

5) PERSEPOLIS (France, 2007)

This visually inventive and touching film adaptation by Marjane Satrapi (and Vincent Paronnaud) of her autobiographical graphic novels lays bare an eventful life led in Iran and Europe. The animated work’s images may be largely black and white but no way does this mean that it lacks for wondrous imagination and expressive beauty.

6) WHISPERS & MOANS (Hong Kong, 2007)

A prostitute drama that strikes a serious tone and is all the more moving for doing so, this low budget offering from the 2007 Hong Kong International Film Festival’s surprise Director in Focus, Herman Yau, got me all nostalgic for a time when Hong Kong cinema churned out actor-centric, human-scale and female-focused works such as it like there was no tomorrow.

7) THE SUN ALSO RISES (Mainland China-Hong Kong, 2007)

A highly original and thought-provoking (even if hard to understand) work from Jiang Wen that comes complete with a superb score and equally top class visuals, particularly in its pulsating final segment that melds together mesmerizing music with the kind of aesthetically edifying imagery that stands as a rebuke to anyone who doesn’t realize that moving pictures can be as beautiful and artsy as hand-drawn or -painted masterpieces.

8) HOOKED ON YOU (Hong Kong, 2007)

As is to be expected of a film that was released in Hong Kong cinemas three days before the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong being handed back by the British to China, this ostensible romantic dramedy which stars a couple of singer-thespians (in Miriam Yeung and Eason Chan) contains a look back at the past 10 years of Hong Kong’s history. What’s less expected though is that the only movie that I deigned to see twice in cinemas in 2007 possesses an ending which is especially satisfying because it contains concluding messages on the subject of love, life and friendship that are rather deep and realistic, and all the more unconventional for being so.

9) MUKHSIN (Malaysia, 2007)

This charming and emotionally satisfying coming-of-age tale sees director Yasmin Ahmad staying true to the culturally-sensitive cause and path that she charted with works like SEPET (2004) and GUBRA (2006) but also providing evidence of an increase in cinematic sophistication by way of being less heavy-handed in her moralizing approach this time around.

10) LUST, CAUTION (Taiwan-Mainland China-Hong Kong, 2007)

An amazingly atmospheric piece of film-making which sucked me into its world and millieu, leaving me temporarily disoriented when I got out of the cinema. If only this Ang Lee adaptation of an Eileen Chang short story’s climactic scene/denouement didn’t have its main female (a bravura performance by newcomer Tang Wei) appearing to act so disappointingly out of character…

And should you wonder: yes, of course, I do welcome comments about my choice of top ten films! At the same time, here's recognizing in advance of any challenges that my opinion isn't particularly authoritative as well as including the caveat that the comments with which I had prefaced my Mobius list really do ring all the more true with the passing of time: i.e., that:-

I’m probably going to change my mind more than once again about what constitute my top 10 choices of best theatrical film of 2007 but, hell, I figure I might as well go ahead and submit the list I finally assembled this week – and AM (1:58, as I write this, to be exact!) to you.

(And this especially since, the more I think of it, the more highly my estimation of HOOKED ON YOU has gone up -- and so much so that if I were to write that list right now, it'd be my top Hong Kong movie of 2007!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wooden (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

After I put up my entry for last week's Photo Hunt, I went over to tnchick's site to see what would be this week's theme -- at which point, I got to realizing that quite a few of my Chi Lin Nunnery photos would have worked as well for this week's entry on account of its impressive main building being a predominantly, if not entirely, wooden structure! Still, rather than revisit that photo collection for this week's Photo Hunt entry, I'm putting up a couple of pictures of interesting traditional Chinese material culture that I took in Penang sometime last year instead.

First up is a close-up shot of two legs of old wooden furniture that can be found inside the Hainanese Temple on Muntri Street. In Imperial China, there was a strict social hierarchy that came to manifest itself even in such as individual pieces of furniture getting divided into three classes. For the record, those in my picture are recognizably second class furniture. How so? Because, their legs have been carved to resemble those of lions. Consequently, they are a class above the undecorated third class furniture but, at the same time, a class below those pieces of furniture whose higher status can be identified through their legs resembling those of those auspicious -- and mythical -- creatures known as dragons!

Next, and at the Penang Teochew Association's Ancestral Temple over in Chulia Street, generations worth of wooden ancestral tablets are on display at the alter in the building's inner most hall. At this juncture, I'd like to take the opportunity to debunk the widely-held (among Westerners) misconception that many people have that the Chinese worship their ancestors. To my mind, we don't. Rather, we venerate, honor and remember them instead. And should people think that our tradition of offering up food and drink to the ancestors is on the weird side, I'll offer up the following tale (involving an encounter that I could well imagine taking place in either Hong Kong or Penang):-

A Western man came across a Chinese man going about performing some grave-side rituals at a cemetery one day. After the Chinese man had finished laying out some food and drink in front of his ancestor's grave, the Western man went up and said, "Sir, I hope you can answer a question for me." "Certainly," replied the Chinese man, after which the Western man asked, "When is your ancestor coming up to eat the food and drink the drink?" Looking at the Western man, who had come complete to the cemetery with a bouquet of flowers, the Chinese man answered: "When your ancestor comes up to smell the flowers...!" ;b

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tap Mun, Part I (Photo Essay)

Goodness! Just checked and got to discovering that this will be my 250th post on this blog that I began back on 16 November, 2006, on a somewhat pensive note and without much realization that it would end up being as photo filled as it has become! Rather than mark this blogging milestone -- and, as it so happens, the 15th day of Chinese New Year -- with any deep musings or ruminations though, I'm going to go ahead and put up what I set out to do this evening: i.e., another Hong Kong photo-essay; the first of at least two that I plan to devote to Tap Mun (AKA Grass Island).

Back in December of last year, a friend and I spent a few hours out in the northeast of Hong Kong on one of those sparsely populated and remote areas of the territory that many people don't realize exist, never mind have deigned to visit. Our original idea was to go hiking in the unpopulated section of the interesting as well as scenic island. As it turned out, however, we ended up not only starting and ending our explorations of Tap Mun at its twin villages in which the bulk of the island's 100 or so human inhabitants reside but also wandering around them. Hence the bulk of the photos in this photo-essay containing plenty of objects that bear the mark of humans rather than (just) mother nature...

Unlike certain portions of the Sai Kung Peninsula,
Tap Mun is not visible from Wong Shek Pier
but it nonetheless was from Wong Shek Pier that
we boarded the kaito (ferry) that took us to the island

View from the kaito of a section of that which
looks to be the newer -- and more Christian --
of the island's twin villages

Yes, Virginia, this really is Hong Kong! ;b

...and again -- and, yes, in all honesty, this image
conforms much more to what I had imagined I'd find
in remote areas of Mainland China rather than the HKSAR!

Something that one gets to realizing about Tap Mun:
the islanders sure are into drying their fish!

Another discovery on our visit to Tap Mun:
that some folks there literally hang fish out to dry!

The stairway up to, and gateway in front of,
the pride of Tap Mun's older village --
its surprisingly large (but also seemingly
not much frequented these days) Tin Hau Temple

The late 17th-early 18th century Tin Hau Temple
that remains one of the island's
most impressive architectural landmarks

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chinese New Year Flower(s)

Spotted while out hiking
on Hong Kong Island yesterday! :)

A more close up shot
of some Chinese New Year Flowers

While out hiking yesterday in what's fast becoming my favorite Country Park on Hong Kong Island, a friend and I came across some beautiful wild flowers that we had never seen before. But it wasn't until I returned to my apartment and leafed through the Nature Diary co-published by the Friends of the Country Park, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Cosmos Books Ltd. that I only just recently bought that I came across the following entry about them (and, in the process, identified what these gorgeous red creations of nature are):-

When I* was a child, family homes were nicely decorated for Lunar New Year, and auspicious festive plants were must-haves. In those days the variety of new year plants were limited. Peach (Prunus persica) was the number one favourite, followed by Chinese New Year Flower (Enkianthus quinqueflorus). The latter, also known as Auspicious Plant, has purplish red bell-shaped blossoms. They used to grow wild in Hong Kong but deforestation... almost wiped them out. Legislation was later introduced to protect this species. This, coupled with a growing supply of import[ed] festive plants in the following decades, saved the lovely Chinese new Year Flower from extipartion [i.e., extinction?]. The individuals we see in the wild today are lucky survivors...

To which elegaic remarks I'd like to add that: it thus seems that my hiking companion and I can count ourselves pretty lucky indeed for having managed to catch sight -- and, for full measure, recorded the sighting on our digital cameras -- of these rare as well as pretty Fragrant Harbour flora and, fittingly enough, during what after all still is the festive Chinese New Year period**. :)

* There is no one author credited with having written the words in the Nature Diary but am tempted to surmise that the "I" in the above quoted passage may well be Maxim Tang who was responsible for the drawings in, and design of, this publication.

** Should anyone want to know, today's the 12th day of Chinese New Year! ;b

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Free (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

This week's Photo Hunt is one for which I felt spoiled for choice with regards to what to pick. Alternatively put, I felt free to select a whole bunch of photographs as its theme is not only so broad but also very open to interpretation. In the end, I decided to go for a trio of photos of a beautiful place over here in Hong Kong for which entrance is free (and where, unlike with some other religious establishments (mostly, I've noticed, Taoist ones), one is free to go about taking as many photos as one would like).

The Chi Lin Nunnery is located right next to the Nan Lian Garden, some of whose rock displays I put up photos of in last week's Photo Hunt entry (and also featured in my entry for the Shiny-themed Photo Hunt as well as another entry on this blog). And just as the Nan Lian Garden is a Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE)-style garden, the Chi Lin Nunnery's architecture is meant to evoke the style of that ancient Chinese Dynasty. Something else of note is that the entire wooden structure were built without the use of a single nail in their construction! Even without knowing this fact, however, I think you'll freely agree after seeing my pictures that it's quite the aesthetically impressive establishment, right? :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Extra, extra! (More links to my published writings)

Cinematographer cum director Jingle Ma
-- who I interviewed a couple of weeks ago --
happily posing with a copy of bc magazine in his office :)

Is less more? As it so happens, this latest issue of bc magazine is the very first one for which I didn't write the Editor's Diary as well as one of those issues for which I wasn't responsible for the majority of the Live Music blurbs. Still, it's not like I was slacking off since I did do the legwork and writing for the following pieces (the majority of which are feature articles):-

i) American Orpheus -- Q&A with Rinde Eckhert, the star, scriptwriter and composer of the American Repertory Theatre's Pulitzer Prize-nominated rock music theatre production, Orpheus X;

ii) Playing with Ma -- Jingle Ma on his upcoming movie, Playboy Cops, and much, much more;

iii) Extra, Extra! -- Hong Kong Arts Festival Executive Director Tisa Ho talks about the Festival Plus section of this mega arts fest;

iv) Educating Theatre -- Arts feature piece about an upcoming Hong Kong production of Educating Rita; and

v) Le Grand Chef -- a review of the hit Korean cooking movie! :)

(N.B. I've noticed some formatting problems with the on-line version of more than one of these articles and will alert our designer to this problem within the next 24 hours so that he can remedy it.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wong Shek Pier (Photo-essay)

Wong Shek Pier is not just a pier per se but also the name given to the area around of it that's located on the northwestern edge of Sai Kung East Country Park. The northern terminus for such as the 96R bus that runs from Diamond Hill MTR station, the pier itself also is the setting off point for kaito ferry services to Tap Mun Chau (aka Grass Island).

I visited Tap Mun Chau last December and plan to devote a photo-essay to it at some point in the near future. However, this blog entry will focus on Wong Shek Pier: the pier itself but also the area nearby, in particular that which gets glimpsed if you were to go on the very easy Wong Shek Family Walk and nearby -- and super short (230 meters!) -- Tai Tan Tree Walk that my mother and I went on -- on a day when the air wasn't as clear as one would like (but still afforded a few scenic views).

For all of it being in a remote area of Hong Kong,
Wong Shek Pier still is one of those places
that attracts its share of anglers along with other visitors

Quite the calm looking sight, isn't it?

Wong Shek Pier Still Life

Yes, well -- waiting for the kaito for Tap Mun Chau,
I started getting 'artistic' with my photography! ;b

Also in the area: wind surfers,
many of whom seemed to spend more time
in the water than wind surfing! ;D

Note the number of capsized wind surfers in this shot!

It really was still just fall/autumn when I visited the area...

Nonetheless, the landscape's dominant colors
were blue (be it grayish-blue or some other shade)
and green for the most part

Monday, February 11, 2008

Six Unimportant Things About Me (Meme)

A fellow Photo Hunter, this one known as the teach (aka mary t on another of her blogs), tagged me for a meme that requires me to share six unimportant things/habits/quirks about me as well as do the following:-

- Link to the person that tagged you.

- Post the rules on your blog.

- Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

- Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

With the understanding that something about me that's 'unimportant' can be defined by it being something that I've hitherto thought to be too trivial to blog about, here are six unimportant things/habits/ quirks about moi (in no particular order):-

1. Pretty much all my life, I've been prone to having bouts of insomnia.

2. I use to try to literally count sheep in order to overcome my insomnia when I was younger.

3. In recent years, I taken to compiling mental movie lists (e.g., of Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia movies that I've seen, my current top twenty favorite Hong Kong actresses, or the Milkyway Image movies I've seen thus far) or naming my current Arsenal first eleven (or, including the five substitutes allowed by the English Premier League, first sixteen) instead!

4. I prefer to feel good rather than look good -- and base my choice of clothing on this personal quirk (that, just this past weekend, a fellow female flatly told me was against nature as far as women are concerned -- and when I begged to differ, promptly accused me of being a lesbian! :<)

5. I prefer stripes and plaid patterns to floral ones (for clothes but also curtains and couches!).

6. For some reason, my ethnicity and/or nationality tends to get mis-identified pretty much every where I go. For example, in Hong Kong, I've been asked more than once "are you Japanese or Korean?" (as if I can't be anything else!) while on our recent visit to Taiwan, my mother and I frequently got misidentified as Japanese, regardless of whether we spoke Hokkien (a language that's actually very close to Taiwanese) or English! And if you're think this is "understandable", whither my also having been misidentified in the past as Ojibwa (by Utes), Hopi (Utes again), Navajo (by Hopi), Cochiti (by Cochiti), Americans (by Americans and Canadians), Welsh (by an Englishwoman from Birmingham!) and Tanzanian (by a Zambian man)???!!!

So... okay, I gotta ask: Are these things about me interesting and does anyone think that any of them are worth devoting entire blog entries about? If so, do let me know and maybe I might do just that in the future! ;b

Before that though, here's going ahead and (-- if truth be told -- not so randomly) tagging the following six bloggers for this meme (and hoping that they'll play along!):-

1. A. at A Changing Life

2. Alejna at Collecting Tokens

3. hd at Falling Stones Are Not Heavy

4. Glenn at A Pessimist is Never Disappointed

5. Willow at Morsels of Peach Souffle

6. sbk at Pictures, Thoughts and Comments

And should anyone else be inclined to try this meme, do please feel free to do so! :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chinese New Year activities

Image from Chinese New Year 2007 -- ang pow-laden tree
at the Hainanese (aka Hainan) Temple, Penang

Another Chinese New Year 2007 image -- this one of festive lanterns
at another Penang temple
(situated in Air Itam
but not, and far smaller than, the Kek Lok Si!)

Happy Chinese New Year once more to this blog's readers -- this not least because, as I've assured A Changing Life's a. over on the previous Chinese New Year-specific entry's comments thread, Chinese New Year officially lasts for fifteen days and nights (culminating with the (Spring) Lantern Festival on the 15th night)! ;b

Unfortunately, however, modern-day employers are most reluctant to allow employees 15 days off during Chinese New Year, even in places like Hong Kong. So tomorrow will see me returning to work for the first time since last Tuesday. Still, as I look back, I must say that I've managed to jam in quite a few fun activities and experiences over the past few days. Among the highlights have been the following:-

1) On Chinese New Year eve
2008 as well as the first day of its release in local theatres, I checked out Kung Fu Dunk. And maybe it's because I went into my viewing of this Chinese New Year movie with rather low expecatations but I found myself enjoying the basketball-themed dramedy quite a bit more than this year's other big Chinese New Year movie. Sure it's got its not particularly logical moments but, heck, it's the most coherent piece of work directed by the usually seriously insane Chu Yen Ping I've seen. And I really did find it pretty entertaining as well as -- courtesy of a combination of great special effects and action director Ching Siu Tung's superb-as-ever wirework -- visually impressive.

(For all this though, I still expect the Stephen Chow helmed
CJ7 to emerge as the season's box office champion -- if nothing else, because it's showing on far more cinema screens and had a six day headstart over the Jay Chou starrer! Also, maybe it's on account of my being a film reviewer myself but I feel that the folks behind Kung Fu Dunk didn't help the movie's cause by not scheduling a press preview of it or inviting the press to its premiere (held, more than by the way, on CJ7's opening night!); for this way, many people were getting suspicious that the movie was so bad that even its backers feared that it would have been lambasted for sure by the critics...)

2) On the First Day of Chinese New Year, I did what I've done on more than one Christmas Day in the USA: Spend at least part of the day out hiking! Believe it or not, tramping from Wan Chai Gap to Wong Nai Chung Gap on a crisp wintry day was quite the exhilarating rather than bone-chillingly miserable experience; and this not least because the exertions helped warm my hike companion and I up quite a bit -- so much so that at one point, while going uphill, we found ourselves having to mop up some sweat from our brows! ;b

3) Also on the First Day of Chinese New Year: Indian dinner at the Taj Mahal Club in Chungking Mansions. Yes, well, who said I was going to go for the traditional way to celebrate and commemorate Chinese New Year?! The thing is that I honestly had expected more Chinese-run restaurants and other establishments to shut down for the holidays than has been the case. So when I made a date with a friend to have dinner, I thought of a place that I figured would have a strong chance of being open on the First Day of Chinese New Year and... ;b

4) On the Second Day of Chinese New Year, I actually partook of a couple of more customary Chinese New Year activities. Firstly, I happily accepted an invitation from a (Hong Konger) friend to visit her home and spend some time with her family. Secondly, I invited another (Hong Konger) friend over to my abode for the first time. Then, in the evening, I accepted another friend's invitation to go out on a boat to watch the Chinese New Year Fireworks Display from the middle of Victoria Harbour! (Re that last experience: The cold and boat movements made it so that it's not one I'll want to repeat any time soon. However, it's nice to say "I've done it" at least one in my life!)

5) On the Third Day of Chinese New Year, I went on another hike! This time around, it was along a 10.5 km trail up in to the Plover Cove Country Park up in the northeast section of Hong Kong. The tramp from Wu Kau Tang to Sam A Chung and Sam A Tsuen, then close to completely back again before heading southwards a bit to the Bride's Pool -- was quite a bit longer -- and tiring -- but, truthfully, so much more wonderful (in terms of such as what's on view) than the one I went on two days previously. All in all, would really like to highly recommend this trail for pretty much anyone who ever decides to go hiking in Hong Kong! (And before anyone asks: Yes, I took photos and, like I said to one of my hiking companions (cum reader of this blog), I can see there being at least three photo-essays to be got out of them! ;b

6) And on the Fourth Day of Chinese New Year, she rested for the most part...! Nonetheless, still did something festive in nature this evening: that is, go out for a dinner -- complete with roast goose, char siew and 1000 year old eggs! -- at the venerable Yung Kee with family friends visiting from Malaysia. But what with the party largely composed of people who are on the, um, mature side, some of them were actually starting to think of bed before 9pm!

Consequently, I've been able to get back and finish this entry that I hope is interesting enough in terms of giving readers a good idea of how at least one ethnic Chinese -- but not completely culturally Chinese -- person has spent Chinese New Year thus far away from home (but closer to the ancestral motherland than she's ever been at this time of the year)! :)

P.S. Should anyone wonder, I most certainly did not go hiking during Chinese New Year 2007. Also, I didn't really bother to check out any fireworks displays in Penang. On the other hand, I did quite a bit more visiting -- and collecting ang pows/lai see! -- relatives and family friends, and being visited by other relatives and family friends. One other thing I miss this year that I've done the last three years that I've been in Malaysia is hang out with a couple of old school friends way past midnight.

All in all, about the only activity that I partook of in roughly equal amounts in both Malaysia and Hong Kong has been... to watch Chinese New Year movies! Chalk this down to my being the movie nut that I am; or the Chinese New Year movie tradition being that strong and pervasive in both lands... ;b

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Heavy (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

This week's Photo Hunt was one that I had little problem finding appropriate photos for. (Hence my going for not one or even two but four pictures for this entry!) At the same time, I realize that my choice of photos to exemplify the heavy theme may need to come with some accompanying explanation. This, of course, I'm happy to provide! Just hope that people will find it all to be adequate...

Re the first three photos: Yes, they all really are of heavily polished specimens of heavy rocks -- as opposed to piddly stones -- that were on display in a section of Nan Lian Garden when my mother and I visited the Diamond Hill attraction back on one sizzling hot June day. And when I say heavy, I do mean it because these are big pieces (some of which stand taller than the average human being -- it's just that since I went for close up shots to show more clearly how -- for all of their not being made up of precious or even semi-precious minerals -- like works of art they can seem and were effectively exhibited as, there's nothing in the pictures to indicate their true scale and size)!

As for the fourth photo: Last Sunday, I decided to have lunch at Jin Luo Bao, a Korean restaurant over in Causeway Bay. From the menu, I ordered a single dish (kalbi -- a barbecued meat) but this being a traditional Korean restaurant, my order came accompanied by seven side dishes (including a soup) along with some rice as well as a mug of barley tea. All this, I think you'd agree -- especially post viewing the photo -- made for a pretty heavy meal for a single female diner like myself to have! Fortunately, the bill didn't tax my wallet much at all, seeing as it came to less than HK$70 or US$9 (including 10% service charge). And especially since it really was very delicious (and so much so that I actually didn't have too many problems eating up the entire meal), have to say that I thought that it really made for quite the bargain! :b

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Enter a New Rat Year! :)

Chinese New Year 2008 display
in Hong Kong's Victoria Park

Today is day one of the year 4705 according to the Chinese lunar -- or, as the Wikipedia has it, lunisolar -- calendar. It also is a new year of the rat according to the Chinese zodiac. Or is it the new year of the mouse? As it turns out, it's actually both because the Chinese do not distinguish between rats and mice, and use the same word for what constitute two different species of animals in the English language!

Similarly, the reason why you see the same years get variously described as those of the goat, ram and sheep is that there's just a single Chinese word for all of these horned creatures. (And while, say, Bahasa Malaysia is not the same -- in that goat(s) are kambing in that language while sheep are referred to as kambing biri-biri -- I think it instructive that that same word, kambing, also refers to mutton and that the Malaysian understanding of mutton is that it can be either goat or sheep or lamb meat...)

With that linguistic issue settled, we now turn to why the Chinese New Year display in the photo at the top of this post also features a horse (and rider). Should you think so, it's not because the previous zodiac year was that of the horse. (For the record, it was a pig -- or boar (again, the Chinese don't distinguish between the two animals) -- year.) Rather, it's because 2008 also is the year of the Beijing Olympics and Hong Kong will co-host Olympic equestrian events with China's capital. (And yes, some people over here are very excited about this!)

In any event, here's taking the opportunity to wish this blog's Chinese readers -- and interested others -- a happy Chinese New Year. (And for those who are living in territories, like Hong Kong, where Chinese New Year is a public holiday: Happy holidays!)

Additionally, while you await more new writings (and photographic samples) from moi: should you not have checked out the previous year's more detailed entries about this festival, here's directing you over here and here for what I hope makes for more for your reading pleasure. So... happy reading? :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hong Kong dusks (Photo-essay)

Now for something a bit different: For the past three years, on account of my being back in Malaysia (the country of my birth, and where my parents continue to call home), I had been able to have -- as tradition dictates -- Chinese New Year's Eve dinner with at least two members of my family. Since I'm unable to do so this Chinese New Year's eve (on account of my being in Hong Kong, and my parents actually having gone to visit my brother in Australia), I'm going to commemorate this occasion by sharing some photos taken at dusk -- which, yes, I'm thinking can symbolize the impending passing of yet one more year in the Chinese lunar calendar -- which I've taken at different times of my time in the Fragrant Harbour as well as parts of 'Asia's World City'.

For the record: the most beautiful sunsets I ever saw and photographed -- though, alas, on non-digitalized film -- were from beaches in Pulau Langkawi (a Malaysian island I only ever holidayed for a few days on) and Zanzibar (the fabled African isle where I lived for close to two years). I also recall witnessing some wonderful sunsets in Beloit (which ungrateful college students like I was then would ascribe to the pollution!) and while on safari in northern Tanzania.

For all that though, reckon that some of the dusks that had a hand in producing the following photos weren't too shabby either... and hope that, upon viewing the snaps taken during that time period (but not solely of sunsets per se), you'll think so too! :)

As nature's light dims, the electric lamps get switched on
-- from Quarry Bay Park looking out to
the Lei Yue Mun Channel of Victoria Harbour

No, those aren't lights from apartments but, rather,
the setting sun's light
reflecting off glass windows
(And yeah,
I'm not the only photo bug who noticed the effect!) ;b

Don't you think the tiny plane in the photo
looks like a bug getting attracted to the light?

Cool clouds help make for a pretty sunset picture

On the subject of cool clouds: how's this for a picture?
-- looking north and across Victoria Harbour
from the promenade at Sai Wan Ho

Pastel sky over Hong Kong

Sunset over a more well known portion of Hong Kong
-- view from a harbor-side area of Fortress Hill

A more close up view,
for if you couldn't recognize them in the previous picture,
of Causeway Bay and Wan Chai in the foreground,
and The Peak in the far distance

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Narrow (This week's Photo Hunt theme)

A few weeks ago, we had a Photo Hunt theme -- i.e., skinny -- that seems somewhat similar to this week's; and for which I had to rack my brains somewhat to come up with a suitable photograph and post. So one might think that this week's narrow theme might pose a problem for me... except that, in the interim, I had come across this post (in the vicinity of St. John's Cathedral, over in Hong Kong's Central District) that's of such slender width that a worthy message has had to be posted vertically on -- rather than horizontally across -- it!

More than incidentally, a bit of on-line research has got me concluding that the narrow subject of my photo is an actual Peace Pole that's part of The World Peace Prayer Society's international Peace Pole Project. If so, it's actually the first Peace Pole that I've ever encountered, and has me wondering whether other Photo Hunters -- and visitors to this blog -- have had sightings of such over in the parts of the world that they frequent...?