Thursday, August 31, 2017

Musings on Malaysianess and Malaysia on Malaysia's 60th Merdeka Day

The bunga raya (hibiscus) may be Malaysia's national flower 
but it also is Hawaii's state flower, and 
can be found growing in Hong Kong's country parks!

 A Hong Kong tram bearing advertising for 
my home state of Penang :)

On Malaysia's 60th Merdeka Day, I find myself -- as has been the case more often than not -- outside of the country where I was born.  What with my having lived for two thirds of my life (and the great bulk of my adult years) outside of Malaysia, it can be hard -- well nigh impossible, even -- to feel 100 percent Malaysian; and this even without taking into account that my ethnicity and Malaysia's Bumiputra policy makes it so that I often feel like a second class citizen in my homeland.

At the same time though, as a result of my having spent the bulk of my childhood in my native land, there are parts of me that I think will forever be Malaysian -- or, more narrowly, specific Penangite (including, I often joke, my stomach and tastebuds).  Also, it is indeed the case that, say, whenever I see a hibiscus, my thoughts invariably turn to Malaysia since I learnt decades ago that that whose name in Bahasa Malaysia nicely translates into English as "festive flower" is Malaysia's national flower.       

In addition, especially in my childhood but even after I grew into adulthood, I've actually have had a number of heroes and heroines who are Malaysian.  Among them are the Malaysian football team of the Soh Chin Aun-Santokh Singh-Mohktar Dahari-James Wong-R. Aramugam-Shukor Salleh era (commemorated last year via hit movie OlaBola, whose beautifully multi-cultural and multi-lingual -- music videos are really cool!), writer Adibah Amin (whose Sri Delima columns in the New Straits Times I'd regularly and eagerly read), singer Sudirman Arshad, cartoonist Lat and the late, great Yasmin Ahmad.    

When I think of them collectively, I realize that all these individuals made/make me proud to be Malaysian, and all embody a Malaysia I truly love: one that is multi-ethnic and -cultural, and often warmly and comfortably so.  On a not unrelated note: I've had the good fortune to meet two of them (Lat, at a book-signing event back when I was in primary school(!); and Yasmin Ahmad, after a Hong Kong International Film Festival screening of Talentime, which -- unbeknownst to us then -- turned out to be her final film); and I found it rather telling that, in both cases, us Malaysians communicated very naturally in English -- which I often think of as a politically neutral medium of communication for Malaysians -- rather than Bahasa Malaysia.

More than incidentally, Lat published his autobiography in English last year.  In another stroke of luck, I happen to come across an autographed copy of Lat: My Life and Cartoons on my trip back to Penang last month (to eat durian) and, of course, immediately snapped it up.  And reading the following snippet from this great and wonderful Malaysian's account of his childhood made me love him all over again, if not all the more:-

"We... visited one another's houses -- to listen to records, discuss books borrowed from the town library and to organise movie outings. Our varied skin tones and cultural differences brought us youngsters even closer together. Our friendships were so close we felt as if we would be best friends till we grew old..." 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Old school dinner at Shek Kip Mei's Central Restaurant

A table heaving with just some of the many dishes that 
my party of twelve had for dinner this evening!
One of my favorite dishes of the night: 
deep fried prawns coated with salty duck egg yolk! :b
One of two desserts we were served: 
baked tapioca custard pudding! :)
In Shek Kip Mei, there's a thoroughfare called Tai Po Road which runs all the way from this section of New Kowloon to that old market town in the New Territories.  Deep inside a building whose main entrance is on Tai Po Road is an old school dining establishment called -- for some reason -- Central Restaurant despite it being located quite a bit aways from the Central District.  
Founded in 1963 and serving traditional Cantonese and Hakka fare, it is the kind of restaurant which you need to dine at with a large group.  One reason is because its dishes tend to be on the large and substantial side.  For another, when you go with many other people, you then can order a variety of dishes and sample a lot more of them than if you went alone or with just one or two other friends.
With our party being 12 in number this evening, I knew that I'd be able to try a bunch of dishes at the dinner.  Even so, I must admit to being on the shocked side when the decision was made for us to order 12 different dishes -- which turned out to be 13 in total since, unbeknownst to us, the restaurant also hands out complimentary bowls of sweet green bean soup for dessert!  

As it turned out, I think we did justice to the food served.  Put another way, we actually weren't overwhelmed by the amount of food that came to our table -- though I did worry early on when I saw the size of the first three dishes we were served.  As it turned out though, they actually happened to be the largest dishes we were served all evening; with pretty much everything else being a fair bit smaller in size than the eight treasures duck (i.e., duck stuffed with lotus seeds and presumably seven other ingredients!), the top-priced (at HK$300) whole salt baked chicken, and the heaping -- and, actually, really delicious -- bowl of pig's stomach, dried beancurd sheets and gingko nut soup that got our dinner going. 
Among the dishes that followed were familiar items like Hakka-style stewed pork belly with preserved mustard greens and old Cantonese favorite, sweet and sour pork, but also unfamiliar dishes like a mainly egg white affair which, upon investigation, also contained crab and prawn meat.  If pushed to name a favorite dish of the night, that last dish may well be it -- though other strong contenders would be the deep fried prawns coated with salty duck egg yolk (even though, if truth be told, I prefer the version served up by Tung Po over Central Restaurant's) and the baked tapioca custard pudding that I ended tonight's feast with two servings of!  
Before the bill was handed out, a couple other members of the dinner party and I were discussing what we considered the meal to be worth.  Having decided that it'd be a bargain at HK$200 per person, still okay value at HK$250 per head but overpriced if we had to pay HK$300 each, we were very pleased as well as surprised to find that the total damage actually came out to just HK$140 per person!
When looking at the bill, it was discovered that the two most expensive dishes by quite a long chalk were the salt baked chicken (HK$300) and eight treasures duck (HK$250).  Interestingly, the general conclusion was that the highest priced dish of the night was actually one of the least tasty.  So if we were to return to eat again at Central Restaurant, we'd substitute the chicken and duck dishes for a couple of other options -- and maybe end up with a bill of less than HK$100 for what, at least in terms of quantity, really is quite the feast! ;b  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Nature's revenge with no small amount of help from the typhoon(s)?

Trash floating about in Hong Kong waters 
A lot of it floats ashore at some point or other
And consider how more awful things got
As Hong Kong braced for visits by typhoons last week, some environmentalists were also bracing for more palm oil spilt as a result of a ship collision that we've latterly learnt actually occured just four kilometers from Hong Kong (as opposed to further away in the Pearl River Estuary) to wash ashore.  
In the wake of Typhoon Hato hitting Hong Kong, reports came in of large globs of grease along with other ocean debris being washed ashore onto beaches and other areas close to the water.  In addition, a friend told me of his having spotted palm oil "balls" for the first time at Big Wave Bay on Hong Kong Island on his first hike after Typhoon Hato hit the Big Lychee and I know that beach clean-ups are continuing to take place at Lamma Island, more than one of whose beaches has been covered by spilled palm oil. 
Those who want to have a look for themselves can check out images posted on Twitter of the likes of Big Wave Bay, and the Mui Wo waterfront over in Lantau being covered by all manner of rubbish washed ashore by the extra big waves generated by Typhoon Hato.  I found a caption for one of them most apt: "It's like the sea has regurgitated all of the junk we've been feeding it".  
And I really do hope that the sight of all this actually does have get more people to open their eyes to how polluted our waters are -- and, also, how much of the trash is of the everyday variety, generated by individuals rather than "just" large corporations and such, and sometimes so very casually.

Some years back, while exploring the southern tip of Chung Hom Kok, I got caught in the rain and found shelter in what I later found out was a former coastal gun battery.  Among the people who joined me there were a trio of anglers who pulled out some cans of beers to drink while they waited for the storm to pass.  After it did so, they gleefully made for their former positions but only after chucking their now empty beer cans into the water and leaving me frankly flabbergasted.
You'd think that people who are fishing enthusiasts would want the waters to not be polluted.  But there they were, happily adding to the rubbish floating about in the sea!  I could only conclude that they were among the too many people who think that the oceans are so vast that they can swallow up all the pollution that humankind can throw at it.  
Except I don't think it can.  At least not forever.  And so there is a part of me that wishes that the sea would indeed regurgitate the junk we've been feeding it more often so that (more) people would get to realizing this. :S   

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar hits town just four days after Typhoon Hato paid a visit!

One gray, windy day in Hong Kong...

The value of typhoon shelters are not as obvious on gorgeous days
but every once in a while, a typhoon comes along to remind you 

It's very rare for me to not venture out of my apartment here in Hong Kong, and this especially so when I'm not feeling unwell.  But for much of today, Typhoon Warning Signal Number 8 was in effect and after the typhoon warning was lowered -- first to Typhoon Warning Signal Number 3, then Typhoon Warning Signal Number 1 -- it kept on raining almost non-stop throughout the afternoon and evening.

Coming along just four days after Typhoon Hato hit town, Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar has made it so that the Hong Kong Observatory has now raised a typhoon warning signal of 8 or above as many times already this year as it did for the whole of 2016.  And if we take last year as a guide, we've got some two months of the typhoon season to go!    

Compared to Hato, Pakhar was somewhat weakling and definitely less of a media star as I've not seen any videos of it wreaking havoc going viral the way that was the case for Wednesday's typhoon.  This didn't mean, however, that this severe tropical storm wasn't dangerous; with reports of Pakhar being responsible for at least one fatality (after a light truck overturned while travelling on a highway and throwing its driver out of the vehicle while Typhoon Signal Number 8 was raised) in addition to delays of 471 flights and cancellations of another 206 at Hong Kong International Airport.

Also, weird as it may seem, after seeing the video of cockroaches fleeing Typhoon Hato, I wonder whether it's purely coincidental that a whole bunch of ants decided to crawl into my kitchen last night (before the deluge even began) and through much of today (which really has been very wet as well as gloomily gray)?  This especially so since I spotted just one or two about the last time I looked (about one minute ago -- admittedly post a few frenzied bouts of cleaning but, for the record, typhoon warning signal one just happened to have been cancelled a little bit more than half an hour or so ago); and I hadn't noticed any ants crawling about in this apartment that I moved into last October until yesterday! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sleeping in public in Hong Kong, and Japan!

Not the usual way exercise equipment gets used! :O

 A surprisingly nattily-attired public napper!
Some years ago, on my mother's very first trip to Japan, I took her to Tokyo's Ueno Park and also tried to get her to visit two museums in the area that afternoon.  While she seemed to enjoy our visit to the Shitamachi Museum, she baulked at paying the price of admission for the National Museum of Western Art when she saw how much it was as a result of there being a special exhibition on at the time.  As she put it, "that's more expensive than eating sushi in Japan!"   
Unwilling to deny me the pleasure of checking out the works of art there, she told me to go ahead and spend time in that famous museological institution, and assured me that she'd be able to find things to do in the park for a couple of hours.  Assuming that she'd be strolling about admiring the flowers and fauna in the park while I admired the paintings, sculptures and such in the museum, I was horrified to view -- fortunately, in retrospect, near the end of my tour of the exhibits -- through a large glass window of that institution my mother seemingly fast asleep on a park bench visible for all the world (or, at least, the museum's visitors as well as passers-by) to see!    
Upon rushing out of the museum and up to her, my mother calmly informed me that she had been having a nice nap in the park.  When I protested that she could have easily been mistaken for a homeless person and carted away by the police, she brushed aside my remarks with a certainty that no one would mistake her for a homeless person.  
And you know what?  The more I've seen both homeless people and others who have thought nothing of taking a nap outdoors in a public space -- the latter of which, I've come to discover, is quite a common occurence in Japan and Hong Kong -- the more I get to realizing that she really was right!
In all these years though, it's interesting that I've yet to see a female who's not homeless sleeping outdoors in a public space.  To be sure, I've seen many women (as well as men) dozing and even absolutely fast asleep in buses and trains in both the Land of the Rising Sun and the Big Lychee.  But my mother truly remains the only woman to date that I've seen napping contentedly on such as a park bench -- and admittedly making far less of a striking spectacle of herself as the relaxed man in the picture at top of this blog post! ;b   

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Hiking the Wilson Trail's Section 4 on an unusually high visibility cool day (Photo-essay)

When people ask me how come I hike in the summer as well as during the cooler months, my usual answer is that summers in Hong Kong tend to have more days of high visibility than in its cooler seasons.  Every once in a while though, one is treated to high visibility on a not so high temperature day -- and when such days come along, I find the hills most definitely calling to me!   

On one such day some time back, two friends joined me for a trek along the Wilson Trail's Section 4 that took us from Tseng Lan Shue village to Shatin Pass, from where we hiked down to Tsz Wan Shan (rather than continue westwards along the 78-kilometer-long in total Wilson Trail).  Along the way, we were treated to many splendid views of the Sai Kung countryside as well as Kowloon hills and cityscape that made the eight kilometer hike (which had lots of up and down sections) feel so very much worth doing.

Here's the thing: yes, it's possible to go by car or taxi up to Sha Tin Pass and sections of this hiking trail which are paved and have to be shared with vehicular traffic.  But if you're able-bodied, I reckon it can feel like cheating to do so.  And in any case, you still would need to do a bit of climbing to get to those parts of the Kowloon Hills! ;b         

Villagers at Tseng Lan Shue have erected signs of their own
for the Wilson Trail to make sure hikers don't stray into 
their fields, gardens and backyards!
The early parts of this hike were largely uphill and shaded 
Near the trail can be found a building with beautiful stained glass windows
whose construction appears to have been stopped midway
(perhaps because it's actually an illegal structure?)
Shortly after passing the village of Ngau Liu,
the vistas start opening up in earnest
 Also at this stage of the hike, the trail gets
quite a bit steeper and challenging!

There's something really satisfying though to get up to a high point, 
where views like this are to be had, on your own two feet! :)
Before too long, the city comes into sight
So near to each other but also such different worlds... :b

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The day that Typhoon Hato visited Hong Kong

You know something's amiss when 
Hong Kong roads get this quiet...

Further signs that a typhoon swept into town today

One of many umbrellas bent out of shape
and no match at all for a typhoon's strong winds

A couple of days ago, the mercury soared to 37.7 degrees Celsius in some areas of Hong Kong.  Worse was to come the day after, when Hong Kong experienced its hottest day since records started being kept in 1884: with the temperature reaching as high as 39 degrees Celsius over at the Hong Kong Wetland Park -- and people's physical discomfort when outdoors being exercerbated by air pollution having hit "serious" or "very high" health risk levels.  All this was due in no small part to a major typhoon approaching Hong Kong.     

For much of today, Typhoon Hato brought Hong Kong to a standstill.  For the first time in five years (i.e., since Typhoon Vicente blew into town in July 2012), Typhoon Signal Number 10 (T10) was raised by the Hong Kong Observatory.  Even more astoundingly, Li Ka Shing's Force Field failed during the day (rather than during nightfall); resulting in the vast majority of businesses along with the stock exchange, schools and such remaining closed for much of the day, if not all of today!

For much of the day, the majority of folks here in Hong Kong stayed at home while, outside, gale force winds blew, lots of rain fell and the sky stayed dark and gray even at noon.  Every once in a while, I would hear something come crashing down outside -- with the loudest noice having been caused by a hunk of wood the size of a door falling from several floors on high onto my apartment complex's podium garden!  

Amazingly, a couple of friends reported feeling their buildings swaying during T10, prompting me to be all the more grateful once more for my having elected against living on a high floor in one of Hong Kong's many high-rise residential buildings!  But for a taste of the power of Typhoon Hato, it's hard to beat checking out the scenes featured in this video and hearing the sounds in this other video captured from a 25th floor flat.  Scary but also awesome, right? ;b   

Monday, August 21, 2017

No Face, a broom, and misbehaving Studio Ghibli fans?!

Spirited Away's No Face posing on stage 
with a broom and a fake tree 
A sign nearby in English and Chinese with instructions about
how to treat (or not, as the case may be) No Face and the broom!
With time to spare after dinner, and our mood considerably brighter and lighter than it had been earlier in the day (thanks in part to having received a boost to our morale post seeing so many Hong Kongers still willing to stand up for others who they believe have been wronged), I decided to drag my friend -- who is not unfamiliar with things Studio Ghibli -- into the Donguri Republic store located within the mega-mall.     
The large, familiar figure of of O-Totoro greeted us at the entrance to this very attractive character goods store.  As I told my friend (and also promptly demonstrated to her), I find it well nigh impossible to pass by what is effectively a giant plushie without stroking it a few times; something which -- as far as I know -- is not discouraged by the Donguri Republic personnel!

A new feature at the store (or, at least, one which wasn't in place on my previous visits) is a stage area on which can be found Spirited Away's No Face along with a broom that people can pose with and have their photos taken if they so choose.  During my time at this branch of Donguri Republic, no one seemed all that inclined to do such -- or, for that matter, interact in any other way -- with this Studio Ghibli movie character and its broom prop.  But it seems some kind of mischief must have occured in the area since, in their vicinity can be found a sign in both English and Chinese asking people not to hit or climb No Face, sit or bounce on the stage -- and generally be nice to No Face and the broom!
Upon seeing the sign, my first reaction was to laugh incredulously at the need for such a sign and, also, at the way the requests were worded (especially the first line of "Please be nice to No Face and the Broom").  My second reaction was to try to figure out who would actually misbehave at a Studio Ghibli character goods store!  
I suppose the most logical suspects would be young children with parents who haven't taught them how to behave appropriately in public, etc.  But looking around me, it's actually the case that adults predominate at pretty much every Donguri Republic store I've visited, be they in Japan or Hong Kong; and those individuals who are fans of Studio Ghibli don't tend to look like they have anger management issues or hooligan tendencies!  (And for the record, it's been similar with Funassyilands and also outlets showcasing Sanrio products!!) ;b   

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Marching to express solidarity with the youngest group of political prisoners in the world

The Umbrella Movement is alive still!
Make no mistake: there were tens of thousands of people
out marching on the streets of Hong Kong this afternoon!
A measure of today's protest crowd size can be seen in its literally 
stopping traffic (including buses and trams) along the way
Showing solidarity with Hong Kong's young political prisoners
people protested Hong Kong's wheels of justice now looking to be 
attached to a vehicle being recklessly steered by Beijing
Earlier today, I took part in my fourth protest march of 2017.  This is pretty amazing when you consider that until July 1st, 2012 -- the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong's being handed over by the British to China and, more pertinently, Leung Chun Ying becoming the SAR's third Chief Executive -- I had never taken part in a protest march in Hong Kong.  (And for the record, before I moved to Hong Kong, I only had ever taken part in one solitary protest march, back during my student days in the USA!)
Contrary to what some people might think, I don't actually enjoy going on protest marches.  It's not fun getting rained on (as was the case last month during the candlelight march in memory of Liu Xiaobo), or hanging about in swelteringly hot and humid conditions waiting for the police (who are supposedly there to maintain order but often seem to invite disorder by frustrating folks) to allow you to get moving.  
Far more seriously and importantly: I wish it didn't seem as though the best -- and maybe only genuine -- way for Hong Kongers to ensure that the powers-that-be and the world-at-large know their concerns at what ails the territory is through street protests (as opposed to, say, elections in which there is genuine universal suffrage). 
I know people who, especially after the Occupy sites were vacated back on December 2014, with genuine universal suffrage not (yet) achieved, have decided that it's useless to take part in public protests of any kind.  However, I remain of the opinion that protest marches in support of causes I believe in, and memorial vigils such as that which takes place annually in Victoria Park, still are very much worth taking part in; this not least since they clearly upset Beijing (and their lackeys within the supposed higher echelon of Hong Kong society) so much that, say, when Xi Jinping came to town a few weeks ago, an absolutely ridiculous amount of effort was made to ensure that he didn't come across any local political protests.
In the wake of Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow's imprisonment for their actions leading to and during the Umbrella Movement, one of the judges which ruled on their case effectively said that the decision was meant to deter others from engaging in civil disobedience.  But rather than cow other Hong Kongers as intended, their actions look to have prompted even more people than before into defiance and to go march on the streets! 
More specifically, this afternoon's march to express solidarity with what is now the youngest group of political prisoners in the world looks to have been the largest protest in Hong Kong since those that were triggered by the Hong Kong police using tear gas on unarmed and peaceful protesters at Admiralty on September 28th, 2014.  And seeing the tens of thousands who turned up today, many holding (yellow) umbrellas in their hands, I got to feeling more than ever that the Umbrella Movement is (still) alive and there is a lot of fight left in many Hong Kongers after all!  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Feasting (and some political point-making?) at the 2017 Hong Kong Food Expo

Kumamon helps draws crowds to the Kumamoto 
products booth at this year's Hong Kong Food Expo
"Stick foods" ready to be eaten at the site!
Some of the food stuffs on sale (including the fish maw 
hanging in bunches at this booth) were on the pricey side!
Back in 2015, my favorite Pear (Fairy) made appearances at the Hong Kong Food Expo to help promote food products from eight eastern Japanese prefectures (including its home prefecture of Chiba).  Sadly, it was nowhere in sight when I attended this year's edition of the gastronomic fair, though I did spot other mascots (including one for a milk powder product) prancing about and portraits of Kumamon, Funassyi's senpai from Kumamoto, adorning more than one Japanese products booth.
In view of the general popularity of Japanese food and drink in Hong Kong, I actually don't think their presence was needed to boost sales at the food expo's Japanese booths.  In any case, it was quite noticeable -- especially in those sections of the exhibition halls where the booths were set up close to another -- how large the crowds were at the Japanese and South Korean food and drink booths, in contrast to those hawking food products from Mainland China.
Given what's taken place on the political front this week (with strong suspicions that the hand of Beijing is most definitely behind the blows dealt to Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement), the possibility can't be entirely ruled out that there was an element of protest involved in the decision of some of the local visitors to the Hong Kong Food Expo to give the Mainland Chinese booths a wide berth.  Something else that also can't be ruled out (and, actually, is probably more likely) is that there continues to be widespread worry among Hong Kongers over the safety of Chinese food products in the aftermath of the many major food scandals that have come to light in recent years.    

Whatever it is, Hong Kongers most definitely aren't turning their backs on Chinese food products bearing the imprint of Hong Kong and Taiwanese companies ("just" those from Mainland Chinese companies).  For, like those representing Japanese and South Korean companies and regions, many of the booths of those from Hong Kong and Taiwan -- and be they selling ready-to-eat foods or food products to be cooked post returning home -- attracted many eager buyers too.
While a good portion of the food fair goers ended up being laden with shopping (some of them packed up in trolley carts given to them by those companies whose products they bought a lot of -- either in quantity monetary terms, or both!), I ended up only taking one small bottle of yuzu-flavored honey (from Japan's Sugi Bee Garden).  This may seem like extremely paltry returns, considering that I ended up spending more than five hours at the Hong Kong Food Expo.
But, then, in that time, I also ended up sampling, outright eating and drinking quite a bit, including Japanese fruit-flavored honey drinks, melon, unagi kabayaki and green tea, Korean seaweed and (super) spicy rice cakes, a stick of grilled pineapple from a Taiwanese booth, a good-sized portion of abalone-flavored noodles (topped with two tiny but tasty abalone) and Malaysian Musang King durian ice cream.  Oh, and the feasting began with a raclette dish featuring melted cheese on boiled potatoes, a pickled gherkin, pickled onions and a generous slice of ham -- since there actually were lots of non-Asian foods available at the Hong Kong Food Expo too! ;b

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dark days in the SAR

at Hong Kong Park honoring medical workers who died 
helping to save others during the 2003 SARS Outbreak

The rainbow sculpture nearby looked to serve as a reminder
that even at the darkest times, one should continue to hope,
even expect, that there will be bright and beautiful days ahead

Less than a year ago, Nathan Law became Hong Kong's youngest ever individual elected to the Special Administrative Region (SAR)'s Legislative Council.  At the time, he was only 23 years old.  On this young man's 24th birthday, tragedy struck in the form of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo passing away while still in the custody of the Mainland Chinese authoritiesThe day after was plenty bleak too: with a legal ruling in a Hong Kong court paving the way for Law and three other pro-democracy legislative councillors being stripped of their political titles and office.  

And now any plans for him to contest the by-elections that are needed to fill the seats of those -- and two pro-independence -- popular representatives have to be cancelled in the wake of another Hong Kong court ruling: with this latest one sentencing the young man to eight months imprisonment, 26-year-old Alex Law to seven months in prison, and the youngest at just 20 years of age, Joshua Wong, to six months in jail; and adding insult to injury by including the stipulation that all of these convicted Umbrella Movement leaders are ineligible to run for a seat in the Legislative Council for the next five years.    

Although, few people will have found the conviction of the trio for the non-violent protest-related "crime" of unlawful assembly unexpected (including the trio at the center of the present storm), given the direction the political winds have been blowing and tides have been turning, the judgement rendered is still very upsetting all the same.  In view of all the wounds that have been inflicted on Hong Kong by Beijing of late, the creation of what may well be the world's youngest political prisoners can feel like the straw that broke the camel's back -- in terms of resistance for some, but maybe also tolerance for others.  

Put another way: I truly fear that there are people out there who will take this legal judgement as meaning that the time for civil disobedience is over; with some frustrated folks out there being far more seriously inclined now to resort to the sort of acts of violence and terrorism that thus far have not occured outside of the cinematic imagination in Hong Kong.  That's how dark a mood the news of the chillingly harsh punishment meted on the young pro-democracy campaigners put me in. 

Seeking some respite last night by going to a favorite bar (where good company is regularly to be found along with fine drinks and tasty food), I initially did my damndest to avoid any serious discussions there.  As the evening wore on, however, I found myself listening to a 30-something-year-old Hong Konger friend recount what he considers to be the darkest days he's experienced -- days when he felt like Hong Kong truly was doomed.   

Rather than fixate on a particular political event, he focused attention on that time in 2003 when Hong Kong fell victim to the SARS outbreak.  Over the course of a few months, the disease more formally known as the Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome infected 1,755 people in the territory (out of 8,098 worldwide) and killed 299 people in Hong Kong (out of 774 deaths worldwide).  The SARs epidemic also negatively affected the psyche of millions of people, causing them to live in fear and dread for what must have seemed like a hellish eternity.

Here's the thing though: Hong Kong survived this disaster (which, more than by the way, came out Mainland China).  Not only has it endured but it has flourished a good deal more than pretty much anyone could have expected that it would have back in the spring of 2003.  Also, during those dark times, heroes and heroines emerged.  I hope this will happen too while Hong Kong seeks to weather this latest storm; only without any fatalities -- like in the eight medical personnel who gave their lives to help cure others stricken with SARS 14 years ago -- this time around.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Macau attractions temporary, permanent, old and new (Photo-essay)

The first few years after I moved to Hong Kong, I used to go to Macau at least once a year.  But after a December 2012 visit there with my parents (during we stayed at the Venetian Macau and did such as take in a performance of the House of Dancing Water), I stopped going to the former Portuguese enclave which is now a sister Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China

Thanks to watching Funassyi's amusing Macao Challenge videos (including one in which the Pear appeared on the House of Dancing Water stage and another in which it visited a spa) which were uploaded to Youtube last year, however, I got to thinking it'd be good to visit Macau again.  Now, within a space of some nine months, I've been there twice already.  And as I trust the following photo-essay (which includes snaps I took from my two recent trips) show, I've had a ball each time and came away thinking I really should return there sooner rather than later... ;b

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, my primary reason
for visiting Macau early this week was to check out
...which I was delighted to find showcased
more than one Winkipinki item! :b
Outside the exhibition, I also wandered around town, as is 
my inclination whenever I'm in Macau -- and this time around,
I came across the beautifully set up Lojas de Conservas store
As the proverbial "they" say, time flies when you're having 
fun -- and all too soon, it was nightfall in the city!
On my previous visit to Macau, the casino lights also had 
entranced (though not enough to induce me to venture into 
the gambling parlors to throw my money away there!)
And especially during the day, the territory's heritage buildings 
(like this Portuguese-style structure that's part of 
the Taipa Houses Museum) actually charm much more
Considerable effort as well as funds have been devoted to restoring and 
conserving historic buildings such as the Chong Sai Pharmacy 
established by Dr. Sun Yat Sen and reopened to the public in late 2016
A good part of Macau's allure for me involves being able to serendipitously 
come across establishments such as the picturesque Fong Da Coffeeshop 
in Taipa Village (whose brews smell wonderful and are oh so strong!) :b