A welcome distraction

Drinking Tsing Tao at Lamma island


Saturday afternoon and Sunday were strange days. Having had a house full for some time and for the last 10 days with close friends R and J staying I had become used to company and the demands and pleasures that brings. Then suddenly it abruptly stops and I am back to the now eerie silence I had come to love in my early stay here. Such was the dissonance I felt I could not contemplate returning to my blog until today. Having been back at work and enjoying a full day’s work I feel I am settling again and can look back with somepleasure on my visitors.

For R and J to come mid way through my visit and coinciding with the Chinese New Year was perfect timing. Things wind down in Hong Kong for the new year in ways reminiscent of the UK around christmas and thus I could afford to spend a bit more time away from work and share the joy of Hong Kong with friends.

I have not really done a lot of fresh sight-seeing on this trip preferring to store new explorations up for this visit so I could enjoy them afresh with my oldest friends, for whom I feel a little bit of personal responsibility having first brought them together in my kitchenette at university when R was passing through with his Shakespeare exam paper and J was breakfasting with me. That fateful meeting led, eventually, to love, marriage, kids and a secure partnership over the past nearly 40 years – I will leave out the patches of difficulty which occur in any partnership given their wonderful ability to work at and overcome those that do occur. So to their visit.

arriving at Lamma

R was a little sceptical that HK could offer the sorts of delights he gets from foreign holidays but they were soon on a busy schedule of visits to keep them stimulated and to showcase something of what Hong Kong has to offer. The usual sites were visited – The Peak, Big Buddha and Lantau Island, Star Ferry, Stanley Market and Lan Kwai Fong but we also ventured further afield to ensure a wide variety of experiences was achieved. Notable amongst these was Lamma Island, a walking tour of the architecture of Central , a concert at the City Hall, the trip up the mid-levels escalators, Temple Street night market and street cafes, Cheng Chau (though I missed that one through work) and Nan Lian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery. Plus an array of food from all kinds of chinese, to Malaysian, australian, home cooked, japanese and seafood the tastes of Hong Kong matched the breadth of the vistas seen.

Cashew nuts - the chopstick test!! Temple Street cafe

The trip to Lamma involved walking from one side of the island to the other which proved a magnificent walk with great views (excepting the power station) and despite challenging my feet I managed to complete it ok. Unfortunately our timing and direction of travel meant that we could not enjoy seafood in Lamma nor a well deserved drink at the end but that is a lesson for when I repeat it and repeat it I will.

Jardine House, the building of a 1000 ....holes I'm told

The architectural walk followed just 2 days later and with my feet screaming for a rest but going unheard we enjoyed a three-hour trip around Central that helped me put into context and locate more accurately many of the bits I have seen on previous visits but did not really bring together. It also suggested a host of follow-up visits and later in the week we enjoyed the full trip up the Mid-Levels escalators reaching the top more easily than the downward trip down the stairs though the beers at the Phoenix were enjoyed to help soften the return journey.


 Returning to the Sunday when we had finished the Tour we managed to get across to Kowloon Cricket Club where in coolish weather we saw Hong Kong pull off a second victory over Papua New Guinea to take the ICCKowloon Cricket Club Division 3 World Cricket League title and progress to Div 2, quite an achievement. In the final a young 16-year-old Chapman (known as Matthews to R for some bizarre reason!!) completed an accomplished 70 not out to secure that second victory and the winners trophy.

Cheng Chau

Cheng Chau has become a must visit for me as R and J returned from their day there singing its praises, unfortunately I had to work but I have time to return and when my son J is here maybe that will be the opportunity.

Our two evenings of culture were in contrasting style. David Rowics, a  political folk singer appeared at the Fringe Theatre and i enjoyed his set though I think J and R were less impressed. On the other hand they were buzzing after the Mozart Clarinet Quintet has finished an evening of music at HK City Hall which had featured a symphony by Part in the first half which I found somewhat hard to understand and appreciate though R encouraged me to persevere. Music is good if a little expensive in Hong Kong and I hope to try one or two more outings before I leave.

Ned Kelly's Last Stand TST

I had built up Ned Kelly’s Last Stand as a pub worth a visit for its trad jazz band and I had hoped we would make it on the Saturday evening. Tiredness intervened so we went on Sunday instead when the full ensemble is not there but it was still a good session particularly the guest pianist I thought was particularly good.

I must give Nan Lian Gardens another mention. I have blogged about this earlier but it is a great surprise in the heart of a built up part of Hong Kong. Its is not really a stand out place in the guide books but it has been

Nan Lian Gardens

enjoyed by all my visiting friends and colleagues and we also took in the nunnery too which just added to the pleasure.

Food is an essential part of the Hong Kong experience and we tried to sample enough variety without damaging the pocket too much. There were plenty more cuisines to try but not enough time to do them all but I were to pick out one meal I think the second night at Temple Street Market at the open air cafes was as good as anything even if service is not necessarilly with a smile. We missed out on seafood at Sai Kung or Lei Yun Mun but other pleasures were enjoyed. The most unexpected and certainly delightful lunch was provided in the chinese restaurant at the university where our HK colleagues invited the three of us with two other SHU colleagues for a pre-Chinese New Year feast and feast it was. It was a terrific meal with the special foods associated with this occasion served up for our enjoyment. A wonderful memory.

Chinese New Year celebration CityU style

We had a mixed time trying to get to the festivities of Chinese New Year itself. We failed to locate and buy a mandarin Orange tree, decided to forego the floats and then through some misjudgment on my part, only some though, contrived to miss the fireworks though we did manage to see them live on TV and that was pretty spectacular and somewhat less crowded.

Mandarin Orange Trees - Kung Hei Fat Choy

It was great to enjoy some conversation and a little argument with R and J and I think the visit went off well. They are great house guests, they wash up…….constantly!! Absolutely brilliant and the port was esepcially memorable!! The pics here are partly J’s and partly mine so thanks for the good ones jane.

 My son J arrives next in 2 weeks time for now its back to the routine of reading and writing, quite simple really. Now where was that pan reallocated to!!

4 thoughts on “A welcome distraction

  1. Great to read about R&J’s holiday with you and see the pics. The weather has been crap here – only had one decent day where G and I went down to Studland on the lovely Dorset coast (ref: one of your earlier blogs re the Dorset hols, which I remember some of with pleasure also – 2 Dads & 4 kids in a tent, lots of games and trips). Impressed by your Asian reading – Gill and I probably going to do the Booker Beryl Bainbridge reads shortly.


    1. George,

      Is the Beryl Bainbridge one choose her best novel from the 5 Booker shortlists? Never read any Bainbridge so may join you on that though waiting to look at the Orange Fiction prize too. Discovered an interesting little site on Facebook called FridayReads (It is also a twitter link too). Each Friday people put down what they are reading which gives you a fascinating look at the breadth of people’s reading habits and they then collate them into the leading book that week. I may follow up one or two recommendations from that too. So much to read!! Reading William Boyd’s Any Human Heart recommended by J to me in lieu of tracking down any more of the Man Asian Literary Prize.


  2. Paul

    So much to read indeed – yes the Bainbridge is the Booker nominations. I saw the TV adaptation of ‘Any Human Heart’, which was quite good but felt as if a a quart was being squeezed etc……. Boyd is a very good writer so I will be interested in your view of the novel.

    The sabbatical is obviously doing wonders for you and your education!



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