Category: Family

Food and fireworks

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006 | All Things, Family

The day of the barbecue started off hot and humid, and dark, ominous clouds threatened at any moment to unleash a torrent of rain. As we began grilling, we could hear the rumblings of thunder in the distance. After a few scattered rain droplets — which prompted some preemptive scurrying indoors — the sun broke through as if by miracle, holding off the rain for the rest of the party.

The unique scent of grilled burgers and insect repellant intermingled in the steamy air, calling to mind many summers past spent on that deck overlooking the East River.

Whitestone  Bridge

With bellies full of barbecue, apple pie and Beard Papa’s cream puffs, we settled into our chairs to watch the fireworks display from the South Bronx.

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Hong Kong: Market Journal

Sunday, June 18th, 2006 | All Things, Family, Travel

Title shoutout to B, without whom this site would not be possible.

After Sunday dimsum brunch in Tai Po (about an hour out of Central Hong Kong), E., M. and S. took me on a tour of Hong Kong’s specialty markets. Despite the opressive heat and humidity, crowds abound.

At the Electronics Market, located in the older section of Hong Kong, in Kowloon. E. noted that the surrounding buildings were “more than forty years old!”, which apparently makes them ancient by Hong Kong standards.:

Electronics Market

From there, it was a quick taxi ride to “Flower Market Street” — not the same as Fa Yuen (Flower Garden) Street, which is known for its sneaker stores. M. and S. seemed very amused by my error. Funny American cousin!

Flower Market

Flowers, in general, are a lot less expensive than in NYC and and the variety is astounding. If I weren’t flying out tomorrow, I would bring some back for the hotel room. Here, a lotus flower:

Flower Market

And bunches of flowers, wrapped in newspaper:

Flower Market

Orchids, too, including many varieties not available in the United States.


Nearby we visited “Bird Market” street. The din of chirping and squawking was such that I could hear we were in the proximity well before spying a single feather:

Bird Market

The parrots, by the way, speak Chinese, naturally. “Nay ho mah!”:

Bird Market

Bird Market

Also came upon a wedding photo shoot taking place among the birdcage stands. A little strange, but very glamorous!

Bird Market

More markets. Here an overhead shot of last night’s “Ladies Street”, taken from the pedestrian walk above.:

Ladies Street Market

At the tropical fish market. This one is a large, highly prized red dragon fish — US$2500.00(!). For the more budget-minded, the store also carries golden dragon fish for about US$150.00: similar, but paler and white/golden in color. Due to their aggressive fighting nature, each fish was kept in its own tank. At the front of the store was a smaller tank full of squirming hairless baby mice for sale… as dragon fish food. Eeek.:

Red Dragon fish

These fish are dyed assorted, lurid colors… which seems just wrong somehow.:

Colored fish

At every turn, street food. Roasted meats, fish balls, squid, sausage…

Food Stand

Stuffed intestines…

Food Stand

Puddings, with red bean, wrapped in lotus leaf:

Food Stand

…and Hong Kong cakes!:

Food Stand


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Hong Kong civics lesson

Thursday, June 15th, 2006 | All Things, Family, Travel

First full day in Hong Kong got off to an early start. After a traditional Hong Kong breakfast at the hotel of vegetable & pork vermicelli soup and glutinous rice dumpling, E. met us and the three of us took the hotel shuttle into Wan Chai. There began our six hour mini-tour of the Hong Kong government offices.

Although not the primary reason for the trip, one of the things Dad had hoped to accomplish this week was to register for a new Hong Kong identity card. First introduced in 1949, the cards were used to identify native Hong Kong residents from the influx of mainland Chinese into the relatively prosperous British colony. The credit-card sized ids, both then and now, grant a host of privileges not available to outsiders.

Hong Kong Identity Card

In the 1950’s, the cards were constructed of laminated cardboard; today they’re embedded with microchips that hold name, birthdate, gender, residential status, and the digital template of both thumbprints. We had booked an appointment online through the Registration of Persons Offices website, so once there, we were ushered in immediately to start the paperwork. To his credit, the clerk was seemingly unfazed by the “classic” nature of the card we brought in for replacement.

Two hours (and that only because their system suffered a temporary crash — unrelated to us, we’re pretty sure), a digital photo and two thumbprint scans later, we were set. Armed with Dad’s new interim Certificate of Identity, we proceed on to Phase II: the Immigration Department four floors below to apply for a Hong Kong passport. More photos, more paperwork, more photocopies, pay at the “Schroff”… Done. Because we produced a ticket showing an impending outbound flight, we were able to rush the new passport for Monday pick-up.

While most of this was going on, I was able to wander the Hong Kong Convention Center next door to snap a few photos of the very hazy Hong Kong Harbor.
Hong Kong Convention Center (3)
Hong Kong Convention Center (1)

Hong Kong Convention Center (2)

Yes, the day was just as steamy and dreary as it looks.

Phase III: To Shau Kei Wan for a visit to China Travel Service to apply for a Home Visit Permit. The travel documents, used in conjunction with the Hong Kong ID, allow the holder to travel into China without a visa and to speed through the notoriously long exit/entry waits at the Hong Kong border.

From the Shau Kei Wan area markets:

Hong Kong Fruits (1)

Lychee and durians


Three government ids in six hours. Not bad for a half day’s efforts.

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