It is a long week-end and I hop on a plane for Hong Kong - it's a good time to relax, recharge and enjoy the company of my favourite travel companion -- myself.
As in my last visit, I decide to take another hike with Michael Hansen of Hansen's Hikes. But since it's monsoon season and the weather is wet and unpredictable, I settle for an urban walk instead of traipsing around the hills and peaks of Hong Kong.
Good choice to do an urban crawl -- it's raining steadily on the day of our walk. To start off, we take a bus to our first destination. Luckily, we snag the "tourist" seats on this double decker, the front row on the upper deck. Gives me a great although blustery view of the city.
We get off at Shau Kei Wan, on the northern part of Hong Kong island. The market here is lively, bustling and full of shoppers even on a rainy Friday morning.
The vegetables look so appealingly fresh and gigantic too.
Are these green peppers on steroids?
Aside from fruits and vegetables, there are also fresh flowers for sale.
Tucked in the back stalls are the fishmongers and the butchers.
At the end of the market is the end point for the trams that have come all the way from Central. They make their turn around here for the return trip back.
We walk further down the road to our next destination -- Sai Wan Ho where we will catch the ferry to Lei Yue Mun.
But along the way, we pass by this small temple dedicated to Tin Hau, goddess of the sea.
I peek in and marvel at these intricately carved statues and figures, all depicting scenes of life at sea.
There is even a dragon boat right at the entrance of the temple.
We leave this temple to Tin Hau for now and walk by the bay to get the ferry for Lei Yue Mun. The rain has stopped but it's still a cloudy day.
There are dozens of boats parked -- some of them are pleasure craft, some are police boats, some are fishing vessels and there are also some that seem to be floating residences.
At Sai Wan Ho, we catch this small ferry which will take us from Hong Kong Island to Lei Yue Mun, a traditional fishing village in Kowloon Peninsula. It is also a sea food market with lots of restaurants where locals and tourists go for fresh sea food meals.
After just a ten minute boat ride, we alight at Lei Yue Mun. Small fishing boats are parked in the basin, unloading the catch of the day.
This boat has styrofoam containers of lobster and fresh prawns -- all alive and ready for the tanks in the seafood restaurants.
Michael and I walk past the small restaurants, still closed as it isn't lunch time yet.
But the fresh sea food sellers and vendors are open and all sorts of live sea food are on display.
This is geoduck -- a large type of clam that looks really strange but has a not unappetising taste.
All the vendors are getting ready for the influx of the lunchtime crowd.
We walk past the fresh sea food sellers and go deeper into the village. Notice the red carpet on the floor? Aside from the VIP welcome that it connotes, it has a more functional purpose -- it keeps people from slipping on the often wet cement walk.
Aside from sea food, there are small bakeries selling old style cookies and sweets. For dessert perhaps, after a heavy sea food meal?
We walk away from the market and the restaurants and come upon this surprising view of the city skyline. The glamour and glitz of Hong Kong seems far removed from this still charming and rustic fishing village.
Michael points out the houses that have existed in Lei Yue Mun for all these past generations. While no new structures can be built, residents maintain and can refurbish their existing homes.
To ensure that no one builds any illegal extensions on their properties, signs like this that state the size of each of the rooms in the house are posted outside.
Even if the houses are old and cramped, you do get a magnificent view outside your window which is perhaps, why so many people continue to live in this small village.
Because this is a fishing village, we come upon another temple dedicated to Tin Hau, goddess of the sea. It is situated almost at the end of the road.
While the temple has been here for more than a hundred years, it has since been renovated and refurnished. Everything seems a bright and shiny new red.
I just love these coils of incense that you find hanging in the temples. They fill the place with a subtle and unique scent.
As we walk back towards the village centre, I see this "lovers' tree" complete with heart and inscription. It's a quaint touch that adds charm and warmth to the scene.
Michael points out this old style letter box, still with the insignia of King George V -- this must be from pre World War II days. It's a wonderful relic of Hong Kong's colonial past.
From Lei Yue Mun, it's time to head to the next market and the next destination. The travel gods are smiling because again, I snag the "tourist" seats, the front row on the upper deck of the bus.
Michael takes me to Choi Hung Estates, one of Hong Kong's oldest public housing areas. Choi Hung is in Kowloon, in the Wong Tai Sin district. It's vibe is strictly local and very residential. Just perfect for the local colour that I always like to discover.
Ngau Chi Wan is a village within the area that has its own colourful and lively market. There are stalls selling freshly cooked food, ready to go.
What a serendipitous find for Pork in The Road -- I don't know whether to feel sorry or amused at these pig heads laid down on the floor. The head on the extreme right is quite expressive, the poor pig has covered his eye with one ear -- perhaps in shame at the fate that has befallen him.
From dead pigs to turtles in captivity! These poor creatures are destined for someone's soup bowl. I am reminded why I am vegetarian.
I thankfully move away from these depressing scenes and on to the fresh produce section.
Baked goods! My kind of store. I buy a couple of pineapple buns, my favourite pastry.
We've gone through 3 markets and have been walking for over 3 hours. Such an interesting and well spent morning. As a fitting end to all the walking and exploring, we stop for lunch at a very local and traditional dim sum place.
It's been another wonderful hike of discovery and exploration -- thank you, Michael!
Here's to the next hike!