Tag Archives: hong kong

Trundling through Hong Kong

Here are 52 sped-up seconds of one of my first tram rides through central Hong Kong, taken in 2012. It’s such a fun way to get a quick look at the city—can’t wait to do it again!

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This Could Be the Night, or September 1993 playlists

hong kong bus

Double-decker bus, Kowloon, Hong Kong | Canon 5D, 17mm, 5 sec, f20, ISO 100

Kowloon’s Nathan Road crackles with the energy of thousands of locals trying to get to work on time, touts hustling to unload watches and suits of questionable quality, and tourists struggling not to get swept away in the maelstrom. Even though Hong Kong doesn’t have a sticky-fingered reputation like Rome, Paris, or Barcelona, Nathan Road isn’t the kind of place I like to linger. Call me paranoid, but each second spent standing still on that street means one less personal item in my possession.

And yet one late evening on that very street, right outside our guesthouse, C stopped us because he needed to load a new roll of film into his Lomo.

“Can’t you wait until we get inside?” I asked, exasperated.

“I almost have it,” he said, fumbling with the camera and then dropping to one knee to fuss with his bag.

There weren’t many people out at that hour, but I kept up my guard, mentally choreographing ways to distract or disarm the guys loitering around us should they attempt to swoop in and relieve us of our belongings.

“Wait, here, hold this for me,” he said, reaching up and handing me a film canister.

I took it and tapped my foot, hoping the sound would hurry him up. Instead, he asked, “Can you open it for me?”

I sighed, flipped up the lid…and quickly closed it again. The blood drained from my face. My heart began pounding in my ears.

Sitting on top of the roll of film was a diamond ring.

“What the hell are you doing?!” I hissed.

I don’t recall much of what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure I yanked C up by the scruff of his neck before he could utter another word and marched us back to our room.

Had you told me 19 years ago that I’d be married someday, I would’ve either told you to shut the front door, laughed in your face, or punched you in the stomach, maybe all three depending on my caffeine intake at the time. It wasn’t because I doubted I might find that special person I’d want to love, confound, delight, and annoy for the rest of my life—I simply didn’t think paperwork and ceremony were necessary in what was essentially a matter of the heart.

C knew this about me. He knew I was adamant about not getting married. But somehow he decided to take a chance.

And he won.

Eventually.

Like, a year or so later.

Honestly, how could I listen to as much lovesick doowop and girl group songs as I do/did without expecting them to unearth my (deeply buried) inner romantic? Or maybe I was getting soft and sentimental in my old age. Whatever it was, staying stubborn became more challenging the more starry-eyed couples we met, the more tear-jerking vows we heard, the more heart-warming weddings we photographed. Didn’t I want to spend the rest of my life with him? Yes. So what did it matter that he wanted to make it “official” with a trip to city hall and some nervous hand-holding in front of dozens of pairs of eyes?

We got married two weekends ago and, I have to say, it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was head-spinningly, breathtakingly fun. Getting in touch with my crafty side at Jo-Ann’s helped me connect to an event I never imagined for myself, and somehow C and I cobbled together a wacky weekend filled with shaky tea ceremonies, bruise-free board breaks, ill-fitting rings, bathroom beauty parlors, lion dances, rickshaw smilebooths, too many mini cupcakes and barbecued pork buns, and wild performances by Gravy’s Drop, City Deluxe, and the legendary Roy Loney with his Phantom Movers. C, backed by City Deluxe, surprised all of us with his jaw-dropping rendition of Johnny Thunders’ “I Wanna Be Loved.” I may blog about some of the details once I’ve recovered but, until then, it’s easiest just to share one of the mixes I made for our reception:

Speaking of mixes, here are a few of my KALX playlists from 19 years ago, back when I lived on the third floor of a century-old wood-shingled house (above a strange family of five and their three dogs), back when I jumped at any chance to be on the air, back when I thought not a whit about my future. My song choices were limited and my segues were still awkward (input from Rancid’s Tim “Lint” Armstrong didn’t help) but I suppose they’re a good reflection of that brash, mercurial time in my life.

* = feature play
$ = request

09/05/93: SUNDAY 6-9am

VELVET UNDERGROUND – Sunday Morning
* NEW BOMB TURKS – Got No Proof
* WAT TYLER – Poems on the Underground
JOHNNY MATHIS – Chances Are
7 SECONDS – 99 Luftballoons
* JPS Experience – Ray of Shine

WYNONA RYDERS –  No One Ever Listens to Me
RANCID – Adina
SCREECHING WEASEL – I Wanna Be with You Tonight
GREEN DAY – Android
* JIM CARROLL – People Who Died

SINKHOLE – Waterbug
GUMBY soundtrack – Gumby
MY FAIR LADY soundtrack – The Rain in Spain
GAY PURREE soundtrack – Little Drops of Rain
EVERREADY – Will the World Ever Change
EVERGREEN – Forced Feed Ed

* STRAY CATS – She’s Sexy & 17
BOW WOW WOW – Do You Wanna Hold Me?
BEASTIE BOYS – No Sleep Til Brooklyn
* CYPRESS HILL – Cock the Hammer
DIGITAL UNDERGROUND – Sons of the P

* RED AUNTS – Teach Me to Kill
THE MISFITS – Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?
JOAN JETT – I Hate Myself for Loving You
* 7 YEAR BITCH – The Scratch

SCRAWL – Begin
* THE MUFFS – Big Mouth
* VELOCITY GIRL – Crazy Town
* ORNETTE COLEMAN – Sadness
DUB SYNDICATE – Drainpipe Rats

THE RAMONES – Blitzkrieg Bop
STINK – Never Will Forget
FRANK SINATRA – Only the Lonely
TEENY RECORDS – Weekend Go

JAWBREAKER – Boat (live)
NENA – 99 Luftballoons
THE GO-GO’S – Head Over Heels
* SUBMACHINE – Bonus Beer Song
THE LOOKOUTS – One Planet, One People

DISPOSABLE HEROES – Language of Violence
DIGABLE PLANETS – Where I’m From
SUGAR – If I Can’t Change Your Mind
DINOSAUR JR. – Start Choppin

LATTER DAY SAINTS – 592
* SLANT 6 – 33 Vision

.

09/08/93: WEDNESDAY 12:30-4am
(with Tim “Lint” Armstrong of Rancid)

* GAS HUFFER – Bad Guy Reaction
ARTHUR KAY – Play My Record
JOHNNY PEEBUCKS & THE SWINGIN’ UTTERS – Mystery Rezillos Track
FLOYD LLOYD & THE POTATO 5 – Jesse Jackson

BARRY ADAMSON – Adamson Family
SELECTER – James Bond
*DESTROY – Ode to Top Ramen
DEAD BOYS – Sonic Reducer
D.I. – Surfin’ Anarchy

* KRUPTED PEASANT FARMERS – Memories of Death
TOY DOLLS – Razzmatazz
* JAWBREAKER – Kiss the Bottle
BEASTIE BOYS – So What’cha Want
* CYPRESS HILL – I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That

GREEN DAY – At the Library
RANCID – Outta My Mind
* BAD RELIGION – Kerosene
* JOLT – Heaven’s Child

LEGENDARY PINK DOTS – Encore Une Fois
THROBBING GRISTLE – Six Six Sixties
* SARA DEBELL – Smells Like Teen Spirit
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – Suspect Device
THE JAM – London Girl

* TIGER TRAP – Puzzle Pieces
TALULAH GOSH – My Best Friend
JESUS & MARY CHAIN – Hardest Walk
FRANK SINATRA – Love & Marriage
THE DICKIES – Eep Opp Ork (Uh, Uh)

FRANK SINATRA – Gumby
X-RAY SPEX – The Day the World Turned Dayglo
THE SLITS – Love & Romance
FUZZBOX – Jackie

* BOW WOW WOW – C30, C60, C90, Go
* TILT – Play Cell
THE ADVERTS – One Chord Wonders
MINOR THREAT – Guilty of Being White

GORILLA BISCUITS – Finish What You Started
* THE GERMS – What We Do Is Secret
PEE WEE HERMAN – Surfin’ Bird
$ SID VICIOUS – Steppin’ Stone
FANG – Puff the Magic Dragon

BEST OF DISNEY – Wonderful Thing About Tiggers
EVERREADY – At the Che
* FIFTEEN – Perfection
TV PERSONALITIES – I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives
SYD BARRETT – Here I Go
HUSKER DU – Eiffel Tower High

* LES THUGS – Flags
WEDDING PRESENT – My Favorite Dress
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S SOUNDTRACK – Moon River
Lil Orphan Annie
THE POTATOMEN – Davey

.

09/16/93: THURSDAY 6-9am

CHUMBAWUMBA – Tianamen Square
SHOP ASSISTANTS – I Don’t Wanna Be Friends with You
HEAVENLY – C Is the Heavenly Option
TALULAH GOSH – Bringing Up Baby

  MR. T EXPERIENCE – Velveeta
* THE MUFFS – Get Me Out of Here
THE POTATOMEN – Davey
* THE NE’ERDOWELLS – We’re Hot Lookin’
THE KING & I soundtrack – Whistle a Happy Tune

MARY POPPINS soundtrack – Jolly Holiday
* BRATMOBILE – Cool Schmool
STIKKY – I Love Fonzie
Green Acres
$ JOLT – Heaven’s Child

EVERREADY – Fairplay

JUKE – Child Bride
BLATZ – Homemade Speed
ZERO BOYS – Amphetamine Addiction
* NEW BOMB TURKS – Got No Proof
* BLACK MARKET BABY – Potential Suicide

FLIPPER – The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
ISOCRACY – Hippie Man
BUM – Instant Cool Aid
* FLESH WEAPONS – Fish

THE DICKIES – Nights in White Satin
SNATCH – Love without a Reason
THE BUSTERS – Dead or Alive
THE SPECIALS – (Dawning of a) New Era
SELECTER – Too Much Pressure
BARRY ADAMSON – 007, Fantasy Bond Theme

* THE GERMS – Media Blitz
* JOHN HENRY WEST – Shut Your Mouth
* OILER – Antigravity
* POP-O-PIES – In Frisco

* THE SUPERSUCKERS – Drinkin’ & Drivin’
ALTERNATIVE TV – Viva La Rock n Roll
THE SONICS – Strychnine
SECRET AFFAIR – One Way World
THE LAMBRETTAS – Poison Ivy

THE BUZZCOCKS – Ever Fallen in Love
THE DAMNED – Born to Kill
SUBWAY SECT – Nobody’s Scared
JOHNNY MATHIS – Chances Are

NAKED RAYGUN – Those Who Move
SNFU – Cannibal Cafe
SPECIMEN – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
* FLOUR – One Step at a Time

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – Barbed Wire Love
THE VIBRATORS – Stiff Little Fingers
* THROBBING GRISTLE – Wall of Sound
ANTIOCH ARROW – Stilts
LATTER DAY SAINTS – 592
FUZZONE – Balloon Song

UNDERSIDE – Known
GORILLA BISCUITS – Time Flies
THE SUBHUMANS – Reality Is Waiting for the Bus
SHAM 69 – Hey Little Rich Boy

DEAD BOYS – Caught with the Meat in Your Mouth

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Five on Friday: Meat-Free Hong Kong Dim Sum

Steamed vegetarian buns, Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine (Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon)

Whenever I think of Hong Kong, I immediately start salivating like a Labrador that has spotted a clumsy toddler clutching a handful of Goldfish crackers. C & I only spent three days there in February 2009, but we managed to stuff ourselves with an exquisite selection of vegetarian dim sum, which is a rarity everywhere but in NYC and–oddly–Sydney, Australia.

It’s astounding to me that the Bay Area, with its healthy and demanding population of vegetarians and vegans, doesn’t have a single restaurant dedicated to meat-free dim sum. Certainly, places like Yank Sing (SF), Big Lantern (SF), and May Flower (2156 University Avenue, Berkeley–sticky rice with veggie chicken wrapped in lotus leaf!) have a good number of vegetarian items on their dim sum menu, but you either have to hunt for them among traditional dishes like chicken’s feet and beef tripe, double-check that they aren’t peppered with pork or dried shrimp “for flavor,” or hope that they retained their delicate texture after a stint in the freezer. Hey, if the Bay Area can support vegetarian restaurants specializing in Filipino cuisine, Southern comfort food, and sushi (Cha-Ya: 1686 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 762 Valencia Street, SF), there’s no reason it can’t have just one vegetarian dim sum parlor. Any enterprising restaurateurs or dim sum masters out there willing to take on this no-brainer?

Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine (7th floor, 1 Peking Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon) was our first introduction to what Hong Kong has to offer. Located on the seventh floor of a building overlooking Victoria Harbour and its famous (albeit fog-enveloped) skyline, it featured several dozen freshly made dishes, among them pan-fried spinach and porcini mushroom buns; rice rolls filled with your choice of golden mushrooms and pumpkin or vegetarian abalone and shredded chicken; BBQ “pork” buns; eight treasure sweet rice pudding. Dishes made with egg white were obviously marked. We ordered eight dishes and hoovered up every last crumb, yet were able to waddle out of there with clear heads and invigorated bodies–look, ma! No dim sum hangover and no need to sprawl out under the table for a nap! Since we couldn’t bear the thought of not trying everything on the menu, we came back on our last day. It was a wonderful (but sad) end to our first Hong Kong visit.

Vegetable wontons in supreme soup, Kung Tak Lam Shanghai Vegetarian Cuisine (Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon)

I can’t tell you much about dim sum culture, but I do know that the Cantonese term dim sum (or dian xin in Mandarin) literally means “little hearts,” referring to the bite-sized morsels served at dim sum. I’ve also heard the term yum cha (Cantonese for “eat tea”) bandied about in conjunction with dim sum. So we headed to Lock Cha Tea House in surreal Hong Kong Park (think Sea World sans dolphins, penguins, and orcas) to “eat tea.” The tea house doubles as a tea shop, or vice versa, and you select tea from a boggling menu. The tea is then prepared at your table with a multistep ceremony featuring several tea pots, cups, and bowls and a dextrous server. C got organic black tea; I got yellow tea. I wish I could tell you more, but the notes I took at the time were embarrassingly spare, no doubt because I’m not a tea connoisseur.

Tea ceremony, Lock Cha Tea House (Admiralty, Hong Kong)

I can tell you that we ordered an array of dim sum that was tasty but less-refined than that of Kung Tak Lam, perhaps because they were mostly on the heavy, fried side. By the end of the meal, we were barely able to finish everything, but we soldiered on and did. The highlight was glutinous rice balls filled with black sesame paste in a heady jasmine tea broth. I loved them so much I tried recreating them at home on multiple occasions–but failed each time. This just means I’ll have to go back. I suppose there are worse things in life to do.

Vegan dim sum, Lock Cha Tea House (Admiralty, Hong Kong)

Glutinous rice ball filled with black sesame paste in jasmine tea broth, Lock Cha Tea House (Admiralty, Hong Kong)

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