Monday, 24 July 2017

Enough Rain Already!

July's rainfall beats records from 30 years ago -- blame it on global warming?
July isn't over yet but Hong Kong has seen record rainfall. The Hong Kong Observatory recorded more than 500mm of rain in the first three weeks of this month, more than the average 376mm for the past 30 years.

The rainfall for July also exceeds the averages for June at 476mm and 432mm for August.

Johnny Chan Chung-leung, chair professor of atmospheric science at City University says global warming will result in more water vapour in the atmosphere, and so the frequency of heavy rain will only get higher.

Last Monday evening when I was caught in the red rainstorm warning, the observatory recorded 184.6mm of rain, the third-highest amount recorded in one day in July over the past 20 years.

We might have a respite from the rain this week -- overall sunny with a few showers for the next few days.

All I can say is -- thank goodness I finally invested in rubber boots!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

HK's Short T8 and Lau Wong-fat

Tropical cyclone Roke came and went through Hong Kong today
Yesterday was so hot and humid, it was a sign a typhoon may be coming. Late last night it was T1 and I didn't think much of it.

But this morning it was already T3 and I got a text message from the Hong Kong Observatory, saying it would be T8 by 9.20am with Roke making landfall at Sai Kung East Country Park at 10am.

The T8 signal didn't feel serious this time around
That was such a surprise -- I didn't see that coming at all. So I stayed at home all morning and afternoon, and by 3.10pm the signal was lowered to T3.

I decided to go for a swim and the outdoor pool at Kennedy Town wasn't open, but the indoor ones were. It wasn't packed, but I had to weave around people in the smaller pool.

There was no rain at all, a bit windy outside and I finished the rest of my shopping and came home.

But by 7.30pm it was pouring rain when I went out for a late dinner in Central. Luckily I brought my big umbrella with me, but I should have worn boots. However within 10 minutes in the MTR, the rain had subsided in Central.

After dinner at 10.30pm it was pouring again in Central -- even harder than before. There was no choice but to get wet even under an umbrella. And then back in Kennedy town there was very light rain even though there is amber rainstorm warning. So bizarre!

Heung Kee Kuk strongman Lau Wong-fat has died
The next two days are expected to be unsettled followed by really hot sunny days Friday may see showers and then sunshine again on the weekend. Or that could all change tomorrow.

In other news, former Heung Yee Kuk leader Lau Wong-fat has passed away at the age of 80. He has been ill for a while.

For 35 years he represented the indigenous residents of the New Territories, and became known for his fight to include an article in the Basic Law to ensure that indigenous interests were still protected after 1997.

This includes the small three-storey houses they build and allows every male child to do the same, while the rest of us are crammed into shoeboxes in the sky everywhere else.

A few government officials previously dared to stare down Lau and his gang, but retreated with their tails between their legs. Are they really that threatening? Apparently so...

However, Lau's son, Kenneth Lau Ip-keung has taken over as leader, though he has yet to bare his teeth like his father.

May be now the government can really start pushing the housing agenda forward to make it more equitable for everyone...

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Sham Shui Po Eats

Kaya toast and French toast with Hong Kong-style drinks at Wai Kee
A good friend of mine from California is here visiting with her teenage son and all I've been doing all week is eating every day!

Thank goodness today I was finally able to hit the gym and burn off some calories, only to put more on later in the afternoon.

Shrimp roe egg noodles with braised beef tendon
I met them again, this time in Sham Shui Po for some local eats, and another friend who lives in the neighbourhood took us around.

Sham Shui Po is one of those places I am hardly familiar with, and feel like a tourist when I'm there. But actually the places we went to were very close to each other and we saw a lot within two hours.

One of the first places we hit was Wai Kee Noodle Cafe (62 & 66 Fuk Wing Street), where it is well known for several food items, one of which is pork liver vermicelli in soup.

We didn't order that, but instead had French toast with kaya spread in between the bread slices, as well as kaya toast, washed down with cold milk tea, hot Horlicks, and hot milk tea with sweetened condensed milk.

Black tripe with shrimp roe noodles at Lau Sum Kee
The cold milk tea hit the spot on a very hot and humid day, though the hot milk tea with condensed milk was so smooth. Meanwhile the French toast was better than toast, but it was good to try both to compare.

Lau Sum Kee (48 Kweilin Street) is famed for its bamboo noodles, where they use a bamboo pole to knead the dough. We tried the famed shrimp roe lo mein -- one with braised beef tendon, the other with black coloured tripe garnished with green onions and ginger.

Both were delicious -- the tendon full of flavour and had a soft texture, while the tripe was crunchy and spiced up by the chilli soy sauce. The egg noodles were very thin and didn't have much alkaline taste.

Finally we went to a shop that sells curry fish balls and boiled octopus on skewers in the late afternoon on the street. The fish balls had a slow burn -- eating them after a while could leave your mouth on fire! The chopped octopus was so tender and nicely seasoned.

Curry fish balls and octopus skewers in Sham Shui Po
It's a pity another Sham Shui Po institution, Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong (118 Pei Ho Street), which sells tofu products, including fermented tofu, soy bean milk, and tofu dessert is currently being renovated, but it gives me an excuse to go back after it reopens in August.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Remembering Liu Xiaobo Seven Days Later

A memorial for Liu Xiaobo was held at Tamar in Admiralty
I'm sorry I missed another memorial for Liu Xiaobo in Hong Kong last night.

It was the seventh day of his death, where the Chinese believe the spirit of the newly deceased will return home to bid a final farewell to their loved ones.

In Hong Kong, about 1,500 people gathered at Tamar in Admiralty, where they paid their last respects to the political dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner who died of liver cancer on July 13.

Liu is remembered with pictures of a chair by the water
People signed condolence books and placed flowers in front of a large portrait of Liu with the words "Remembering Liu Xiaobo -- Free Liu Xia" at the park. Local musicians also performed several songs, including John Lennon's Imagine. At the end of the one-hour memorial, people raised three fingers in the air to represent resistance, freedom and hope.

Finally, a chair with a candle on it was lowered into Victoria Harbour. There are reports police were present but didn't intervene.

There were similar memorials in Vancouver, Boston, Melbourne and London.

It is believed the family was pressured by the Chinese government to cremate the Chinese dissident's body so soon after his death -- usually it is done at least a week after in observance of the Chinese custom.

Also his ashes were scattered into the sea in a controversial burial in an attempt by Beijing to deny supporters a place of pilgrimage. It is also known as a cruel form of posthumous punishment in traditional Chinese culture, where having a tomb is a place for one's descendants to pay tribute to the dead.

Projecting Liu Xiaobo's face on the facade of the PLA!
In the meantime there is serious concern over the whereabouts of his wife, Liu Xia. It is believed she may have been forced to "take a vacation" in the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Not only was she apparently detained, but also Liu Xiaobo's friends, who were reportedly under house arrest, unable to attend memorials. Others were detained after holding ceremonies by the sea.

On social media, people have been posting pictures of chairs by or in the sea, sometimes with flowers and the hashtag #liuxiaobo.

It's telling how far the Chinese government has gone to try to censor anything related to Liu Xiaobo, and yet people just keep remembering him through creative ways.

I think Liu would have been pleased to know so many around the world came out courageously to remember him in various ways.

Perhaps projecting his image on the barracks of the People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong is probably the most daring.

Only in Hong Kong...