Halal dim sum in Hong Kong

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Halal dim sum in Hong Kong

Halal dim sum in Hong Kong

Halal dim sum in Hong Kong

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Menu - Halal dim sum in Hong Kong

Not too far of a walk from Wan Chai MTR station on Hong Kong island, you will find the Islamic Centre Canteen on the 5th floor of a muslim religious centre. People come to the Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre to pray, but also to enjoy good halal Chinese food. How can you have dim sum without pork, one might ask.

We ordered a generous variety of dim sum classics such as har gow, siu mai (w/o pork, eh), cheong faan and lo mai gai, and were able to get out of there for HKD30 (CAD4) each. Normal: the “big” (most expensive) dim sum were priced at only HKD12. I must say that it wasn’t the best dim sum I ever had in Hong Kong, but it was decent enough. It is featured in the Hong Kong tourist guide for people of muslim faith, and we noticed a number of people from Southeast Asia.

Islamic Centre Canteen. 5/F, 40 Oi Kwan Road. Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2834 8211. Business Hours: 9:00a.m.10:00p.m.

Weekday morning in Lamma

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Wet market in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island

Some things, you won’t see if you only visit Lamma on the weekends, or simply wake up too late. You might not see some of the fresh meat shops, that seem to be open early in the morning, or the fish market, which is only there up until 9am (and around 4pm in the weekdays).

The Yung Shue Wan “fish market” (because it’s like two vendors in what would be a small parking space for less than two mini-trucks) is located beside the Waterfront bar, close to the small pier for fishing boats opposite the main ferry pier, in the same bay.

Weekday morning in Lamma

Weekday morning in Lamma

Weekday morning in Lamma

Weekday morning in Lamma

Weekday morning in Lamma

The morning hour of commuting is always a bit of rush for me, a normally evening person. But I also enjoy taking the time to walk to the pier, rather than jog (or sometimes sprint) to it. I come out ten minutes earlier and pay more attention to my surroundings.

Yung Shue Wan, the village near the ferry pier, and largest village of Lamma Island, is completely different depending on the times you visit it. It’s, as you can imagine, a lot like a jungle or any ecosystem, at different times of the day, with a changing fauna and flora.

At night, you will see the night-dwellers come out, enjoying drinks under a starry night. In the weekend, tourists take over Lamma, and “normal life” hides under the cover (for instance delivery trucks are forbidden in Yung Shue Wan on weekend afternoons). And in the morning, vendors that you never see at other moments of the day suddenly appear: the guy who sells DVDs, the lady who sells her freshly picked veggies, and the meat/fish merchants.

Weekday morning in Lamma

Not quite there yet

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Outside Exchange Square

Outside Exchange Square

Outside Exchange Square on a (early) Sunday morning

This is an unfamiliar sight on a Sunday morning in Exchange Square, in Central, Hong Kong. Normally, these are prime spots for Filipina maids to take on the only day off of the week for many of them.

In Hong Kong, Central (and Victoria Park too) is known as the hang-out places for domestic helpers, who otherwise live with their employers. You can picture it as Hong Kong’s financial heart being transformed into a sort of outdoor bazaar.

The note to make is that it was barely 8AM when I took this picture this morning, which explains everything. However, you could already see a few people preparing their spots, or at least reserving theirs.

Stephen Harper in China — who (in China) cares?

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Stephen Harper arrived in China on Wednesday, December 2nd, but it’s almost as if he did not. In Hong Kong at least, only official media (the China Daily) seems to be aware that our Prime Minister is visiting China on an official foreign mission — and they weren’t even cordial about it, criticizing him for not coming earlier.

What was in the Hong Kong papers today, December 4th, which concerns with the Prime Minister of Canada (with its 1.3 million-strong Chinese minority) visiting China? In the South China Morning Post, we have an article at the bottom of page A6, the last national news page:

SCMP (Friday, Dec 4, 2009)

Sino-Canadians leaders seal deals, including one on climate change

And flipping through Ming Pao and Sing Tao for a photo of Harper or mention of the characters “加拿大” (Canada), I found none and concluded that none of these major Hong Kong-based Chinese-language newspapers thought it was an issue as important as the two or three full pages to covering the Kam Nai-Wai saga, which saw new developments today.

In Thursday’s SCMP, the day after Harper’s stop in Beijing, there was also the puny A6 article, also taken from a press agency (despite the fact that the SCMP has a bureau in Beijing):

PM's visit to mend fences Canada broke: analyst

If we go back to the case of the China Daily, I must say that I did like most people in China and did not pick it up (it’s not a paper that people tend to read much). However, I did notice its signboard at the newsstand with the daily title, which had the word “thaw” in it if I remember well. This does contrast a lot with ecstatic treatment of Wen Jiabao’s visit to North Korea in October, or more recently, Obama’s visit to China (Obama being Obama, the news did cover page of many newspapers and fronted newscasts for most of the week he was here).

Other papers that had the choice chose not to cover Harper’s visit.

Free stuff! (But you have to line up)

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Lining up for samples

Lining up for samples

Lining up for free stuff is definitely one of those “strange things” taken from a North American perspective. Free stuff here is never taken for granted, and a line usually naturally forms without much external force.

People are very eager to get their free stuff, and this line (for shake-in flavoured chips from Japan?) stretched for a good 30-40 metre, under the rain…

Un autre « Obama-Jintao » et j’vais péter ma coche

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JintaoJintaoJintao

Ah, ce sacré Jintao

Les gens qui ont écrit l’article possèdent probablement une meilleure connaissance des relations internationales, mais ça me choque à chaque fois de devoir me taper les prénoms à la place des noms de famille. En chinois, LE NOM DE FAMILLE S’ÉCRIT DEVANT LE PRÉNOM. Pis c’est pas si dûr de se rappeler la règle que le nom de famille est composé d’un seul caractère, et donc d’une syllabe.

Voilà qui est dit.

Votre serviteur a commencé à collaborer avec le centre de journalisme et d’études médiatiques faisant partie de l’Université de Hong Kong. Autrement connu sous l’acronyme de JMSC, cette école dont la langue d’enseignement est l’anglais se veut le point névralgique où se touchent les mondes médiatiques anglophone (international) et sinophone (chinois). Les profs qui y enseignent sont à la fois des vétérans journalistes de Chine continentale, de Hong Kong ou d’origine internationale (anglais, indiens, japonais, hongrois, américains, etc. — et c’est juste ceux que j’ai rencontrés), et des parcours non moins intéressants.

J’en parle, non pas par souci d’auto-promo, mais bien plutôt pour contribuer à faire connaître le nom de l’école, car celle-ci est en période de recrutement, pour ses programmes de 1er et de 2e cycle. La maîtrise en journalisme se veut un genre de MBA pour les gens en relations internationales, comm, et médias.

Donc voici le lien: http://jmsc.hku.hk/

C’est pas donné, de notre perspective québécoise de quasi-gratuité scolaire, mais ça en vaut franchement le coup d’oeil si on s’intéresse à la Chine.

Pis espérons-le que des grossières erreurs comme ci-dessus seront chose du passé… La Chine a l’air d’un pays lointain du point de vue du Québec. Pourtant, j’ai rencontré à maintes fois des Québécois qui vivent à Hong Kong et qui pognent à quel point ce pays multiforme, dynamique, devrait être mieux compris afin de vivre avec.

The Beer Bay, Central Piers

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The Beer Bay - Hong Kong

The Beer Bay - Hong Kong
The Beer Bay, Discovery Bay Pier

Si ça se trouve que vous attendez un traversier pour rentrer sur votre île, la meilleure façon de tuer le temps, c’est de vous prendre une pinte de bière importée du Beer Bay. Le Beer Bay est un établissement légendaire avec ses deux adresses situées l’une à côté de l’autre à Central Piers, les quais pour la plupart des îles et ports en pourtour de l’île de Hong Kong. Ces destinations étant des lieux de résidence privilégiés d’expatriés occidentaux, le Beer Bay est en effet majoritairement fréquenté par ceux-ci.

The Beer Bay - Hong Kong
Beer Bay, Lamma Island Pier

The Beer Bay importe donc une bonne liste de bières, incluant beaucoup de noms obscurs d’Angleterre, comme la Doom Bar, une douce ale fruitée, en fût (20HKD la pinte – 3CAD) ou la Green Goblin, un cidre fermenté dans des tonneaux en chêne brassé par Wychwood (40HKD la grosse bouteille de 600 mL – 6CAD). Les mardis soirs, la Doom Bar et les autres bières en fût (c’était la Heineken et la Hoegaarden l’autre soir) sont 15HKD (2.25CAD!) la pinte.

Comme en font foi les photos ci-dessus, le Beer Bay n’est ni un bar, ni un dépanneur, en fait. Puisque c’est une pratique acceptée de boire en public ici à Hong Kong (de plus qu’il n’y a pas de lois contre cet usage comme en Amérique du Nord), les escaliers à côté du Beer Bay se transforment en terrasse extérieure lors du Happy Hour. D’ailleurs un dépanneur 7-Eleven dans un quartier de bars, on appelle ça un Club Seven ici. 😛

Fresh fresh veggies on Lamma Island

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菜心Choy Sum

Immature Lettuce

Field close to my home on Lamma

Eating local in Hong Kong is a rather hard thing to do. The most local food usually gets are fruits and vegetable from over the border in China’s Guangdong province.

However, if you are living in the “countryside”, like on Lamma Island, chances are that you might be finding a small farm next to where you are living. This is what I discovered when my friend who has been living on Lamma for some time took me to this small chunk of land, in the small valley at the entrance of Tai Peng village, cultivated by an man maybe in his 60s. With his peasant hat, tool in hand, he seems to be straight out of some old movie, growing his vegetables on this island that is better known for its seafood, great outdoors and hippie culture.

(Next to their field, they are going to be developing new houses… so who knows if the farm’s going to last.)

For one HKD (13 Canadian cents), you can get about three branches of choy sum (菜心), with gigantic leaves. For the same price, you can also get more than enough of green onions (蔥), for what would cost 2-3 times more in Lamma’s grocery stores, and 4-5 times more in my hometown in Canada.

The next day, I came back for some yeen choy (莧菜), a kind of Chinese spinach with red pigmentation on its leaves also called Amaranth, a lad tougher than the regular kind of spinach. A portion for that evening’s dinner cost me two HKD (about 25 Canadian cents). They were delicious, fried with garlic and salt.

The lettuce, the man said, were going to be plump enough at the end of November…

Vegetable on Lamma
A view of the field as dinnertime approaches…

菜心 Choi sum
…and my sink at dinnertime

Edit (2010-01-02):

Carey Price aux nouvelles sportives sur TVB Pearl !

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Carey Price!

Au fil des défaites à plate couture et des victoires à la pelle en temps supplémentaire, je suis mon équipe tout aussi passionnément de l’autre bout du monde. Tandis que des American-born Chinese prennent pour les Angels de LA, et que la plupart des Hongkongais friands de sports contemplatifs (et pour les gageures) préfèrent leur English Premier League, les Canadiens de Montréal demeurent mon équipe de sport préférée.

Je rencontre à l’occasion des Québécois (ou néo-Québécois même) expatriés à Hong Kong avec lesquelles j’échange sur la maudite blessure à Markov ou la passoire à Price (qui a bien joué hier), mais le culte pour mon club se pratique généralement seul.

Et à l’occasion, on lit les dernières nouvelles (vieilles de 36 heures) du Canadien dans le SCMP, journal en anglais lu généralement par la soit-disant élite, ou bien on voit apparaître Carey Price sur notre petit écran au moment où on s’y attend le moins. C-à-d à la toute fin des nouvelles sportives.

Rebecca Pan – My Dream My Way My Indie Music

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Rebecca Pan - My Dream, My Way, My Indie Music

Rebecca Pan - My Dream, My Way, My Indie Music

Pour les Québécois parmi mon lectorat, imaginez Ginette Reno reprises par les artistes indie (et plus) les plus connus au Québec. Rebecca Pan (潘迪華), c’est une chanteuse née en 1931 à Shanghai qui a débuté sa carrière musicale dans les années 50 à Hong Kong. Si le nom vous dit (peut-être) quelque chose, c’est parce qu’elle a joué un petit rôle dans In the Mood for Love (celui de Mrs. Suen, une des madames shanghainaises) et que son tube Bengawan Solo (une chanson traditionnelle indonésienne) est dans la bande musicale du film.

Cet album est un peu ce que ça serait à Hong Kong, avec en plus des chansons en duo avec l’artiste originale…

***

Basically, to translate, I got this new tribute album to Rebecca Pan (潘迪華), who is a famous Chinese singer starting from the 50s. She might be known in the West for her appearance in In the Mood for Love, and a song in this film’s soundtrack.

Aside from covers, there are also original songs and duets. The artists who contributed to the album are all well-known names of the Hong Kong “indie” and sometimes mainstream scenes. That’s PixelToy, My Little Airport, the pancakes, at17, Eason Chan, Chet Lam and GaYumYan.

Le club de pétanque de Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Pétanque Club

Hong Kong Pétanque Club

Hong Kong Pétanque Club

Boules de pétanque

Hong Kong Pétanque Club

C’est en marchant avec une Québécoise vivant sur l’Île de Lamma que j’ai découvert le Hong Kong Petanque Club (anglo pour l’internationalisme, mais français de fondation). J‘aurais pensé trouver un club de boulingrin avant un club de pétanque sur ce territoire pourtant anciennement britannique.

Le club existe depuis 2007 et a été fondé par Éric, un Parisien originaire du sud de la France. Le club se réunit tous les dimanches au village de Tai Peng (大坪) sur Lamma, mais des parties peuvent être organisées par le club à tout autre moment. Quand je me suis présenté dimanche dernier vers 17h, il y avait une bonne dizaine de joueurs.

What will $200 in fact still get you on Shanghai Street?

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Golden Lake brothel on Shanghai Street
Golden Lake brothel at night…

Golden Lake brothel on Shanghai Street
…and during the day.

One of my most popular posts ever on Comme les Chinois, was when in March 2008, I re-posted on a friend’s article on a friend’s impression (as a passerby) of Shanghai Street in Kowloon.

Why was it so popular? Because Shanghai Street, along with Portland and Reclamation Streets in their Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei portions (between Shantung and Dundas) are often synonymous with the sex trade and is home to one of Hong Kong’s most well-known red-light districts. Day or night, as seen in the previous pictures, brothels operate as if prostitution was legal in Hong Kong. You walk around these streets at any time, and you will notice lit-up signs in flashy pink, or the red/pink neons hanging outside on the street or inside the staircase leading up to the establishment.

Perhaps most shockingly comes the “price list“, where the Chinese girl goes for HKD250 (CAD35) and the Malay or Filipina girl will make your wallet lighter by HKD200 (CAD28).

Langham Place, Mong Kok, west of Nathan
Langham Place

The Mong Kok red-light district is in fact just one or two blocks away from flashy Langham Place, a commercial complex that opened in 2004 and whose unavowed goal was to “sanitize” the neighborhood west of Nathan in Mong Kok. In terms of urban renewal, Hong Kong has used this stratagem before, in the early 90s with Times Square (時代廣場) in Causeway Bay and more recently with the apm shopping mall in Kwun Tong, which opened in 2005. While Times Square was a huge success, developing a largely residential area into the location to be for brand-name shopping in Hong Kong, it is still to early to tell if this would have the same effect on Langham Place’s surroundings.

A walk in the neighborhood (during the day) is quite uneventful. The area mostly has home renovation, and construction material, and metal shops, with a brothel at about every 50-100 meters. Ah-suks (uncles) working in the businesses look at you funny, but what seemed to be pimps, left you alone as you took a quick picture of their premises (without them in there, of course).

As it provides an “essential service” in a city of about 7 million souls, the Hong Kong government should leave this part of the city alone, as long as the triads don’t start shooting each other in broad daylight.

Mong Kok, west of Nathan
Home renovation and green light

Chinese BBQ
Chinese BBQ

And now, on a cultural note… In Chinese, “ordering chicken” (叫雞), like in getting chicken from a Chinese BBQ shop, is slang for patronage of female prostitutes. So, “ordering goose/duck” (叫鵝) is the patronage of male prostitutes…