Wednesday, 30 April 2014

More Unrest in Xinjiang

Soldiers surveying the scene of the explosion at a railway station in Urumqi
Tonight there was an explosion at a railway station in Urumqi, Xinjiang with some 50 people reported injured so far. It is the eve before the three-day Labour Day holiday with many people traveling around the country.

The blast happened around 7pm where some suitcases were left on the ground between the station exit and the bus stop outside.

Reports say the explosion was so powerful, some people nearby thought it was an earthquake.

This incident happened just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his four-day visit to the region. It was not clear if he was still in Xinjiang at the time.

Ironically he had called Kashgar  the "front line against terrorism".

He visited a military unit and and armed police squad and then he was pictured touring a police station in Kashgar and watched an anti-terrorism drill.

"You must have the most effective means to deal with violent terrorists," Xi was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in wartime."

Ominous words...

At least 100 people have been killed in violence in Xinjiang over the past year, and over the past two months Xi has publicly discussed battling against terrorism 15 times.

Two days before he toured Kashgar, Xi vowed in a Politburo meeting to "resolutely crack down on terrorism and separatism with high intensity to safeguard national security".

And then in a strange twist, Xi visited a school and urged ethnic Han teachers to master the Uyghur language and to help Uyghur students become fluent on Putonghua.

"It's important to [have] bilingual education for minority children. [They] will be able to find jobs easier in the future by mastering the Chinese language, and more importantly they will contribute more to national unity," he said.

His comments just add to the frustration that he and Beijing don't understand what the real issues are in Xinjiang, why there are terrorism incidents in this restive region.

Already he is calling Uyghurs "terrorists" and "separatists", and how he wants to crush them for the sake of national security without realizing why these people have resorted to violence. It is because of the Central government's own policies of forcing the ethnic minority not to learn its own language and practice its culture and religion of Islam. The government has also destroyed their native homes and put them in sterile apartment blocks.

By not allowing them to do what is indigenous to them, the Uyghurs feel repressed and frustrated. The pro-Han economic policies make things worse, leaving Uyghurs behind in the race for riches.

Which is why it shouldn't be surprising that the desperate feel they have no choice but to voice their anger through violence, a bloody protest that makes things worse for everyone.

And on top of that, detaining the one clear rational voice for Uyghurs, Ilham Tohti, the academic who could have helped bridge the divide, is a major step backwards in Beijing's dealings with this ethnic minority group.

We are not surprised this explosion happened... but will Xi really get to the heart of the matter to end the violence?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Pictures of the Day: Lego City

A tram stops in front of the Woo Cheong Pawn shop in Wan Chai
Lego frenzy has not abated in Hong Kong. Even before the hit film The Lego Movie arrived in cinemas here, there's a strong member base of the Hong Kong Lego Users Group (HKLUG).

The Lui Seng Chun building in Lai Chi Kok
I read one story about a father here who loved Lego as a kid, but stopped playing with it as he got older. However once he had a child, he started buying Lego again and is even more crazy about it than his boy!

Last night when I was trying to kill some time before dinner, I wandered into the Regal Kowloon Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui East and in the lobby were several Lego creatives by HKLUG members.

While there was one giant display that encouraged guests to guess how many Lego pieces were used to build the Easter-themed fantasy scene, the others were smaller, but nice interpretations of famous Hong Kong areas.

One was a Lego recreation of the Woo Cheong Pawn shop on Johnston Road in Wan Chai that is now known as The Pawn. The three-storey colonial-style building was fun to look at with the green tram in front.

Bruce Lee if he was made of Lego...
Another is a toy replica of the Lui Seng Chun building at the junction of Lai Chi Kok Road and Tong Mi Road. First owned by Lui Leung, he had a bone-setting business on the ground floor and then his family lived in the floors on top. The name Lui Seng Chun implied Lui's medicine could bring patients back to life.

The building was finally rescued in 2009 and was finally renovated and restored in 2012 to house a Chinese medicine practice run by Hong Kong Baptist University. It is a great example of restoring a building to its former glory.

Meanwhile the statue of Bruce Lee made of Lego doesn't really do the action hero much justice, but while we don't like the real Murray House in Stanley, the Lego version is cute, with a lot of action happening there, including a wedding party being filmed in the foreground.

Looking at the pieces used to make these amazing creations also made me realize how much Lego has evolved since I was a kid. The trees look pretty cool, and the figures have neat outfits and even bicycles!

A lot of action happening at Murray House in Stanley
Nowadays Lego creations are sophisticated, they are moving away from the simple bricks we used combined with our imaginations to make whatever we wanted...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Shying from Public Interest

The Hong Kong government is trying to sweep this incident under the carpet
At the beginning of April I wrote about the Hong Kong government is doing a terrible job archiving documents and how it was criticized by Archives Action Group chairman William Waung Sik-ying.

Well, he's at it again -- this time blasting the government on not wanting to release the full report into the Lamma ferry disaster in 2012 that killed 39 people.

The government only issued a summary of the 430-page report and did not give names of who were responsible for the collision.

Waung, a retired High Court judge, believes the victims and relatives of those killed could demand the full release of the report that will put pressure on officials to give a full public account. He said it was a matter of public interest.

"The government is quite incredibly still trying to avoid the evil day and is desperate to minimize its responsibility into the whole affair," he said. "I am disturbed... the government is taking the extraordinary position of not releasing the report, which is of course a matter of public interest."

Last year as the head of Archives Action Group, he lodged a complaint with the ombudsman arguing for better management of Marine Department records, and criticized comments by Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, who stressed confidentiality.

"The government's excuse of trying not the jeopardize possible future proceedings against the civil servants just does not wash," Waung said.

The report identifies 17 marine officials, including those at the directorate level, could be guilty of misconduct and "suspected criminality". The report has been passed on to the police for further investigation, and it also criticized the Marine Department's management for "highly unsatisfactory" record keeping.

Nevertheless the summary did not reveal the names of those possibly liable. The relatives are asking lawmakers to invite the powers and privileges laws of the Legislative Council to demand full disclosure.

Waung said the relatives may possibly get the full report by seeking legal aid and then launching a civil law suit against the government.

It has taken almost two years for the government to come out with this 430-page report -- and yet the public doesn't get to know exactly what happened and who is to blame. It has completely downplayed this tragic incident because it is to blame. But we as taxpayers have the right to know.

Hopefully the relatives will take Waung's advice and push the government to force its hand and reveal why this report is so sensitive that the public does not need to know.

What was supposed to be a happy occasion -- watching the National Day fireworks on a boat in Victoria Harbour turned into a disaster. We read stories of how children and people died, unable to evacuate the ferry fast enough because it was sinking so fast.

We need to know what happened and who is responsible so that we can try to ensure this does not happen again.

Surely the government does not want this incident repeated?

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Convoluted Language

What would be the Chinese euphemism for iPhone?
Ah, leave it to the Chinese government to try -- once again -- to ban foreign words from the language.

The Communist Party's mouthpiece the People's Daily has published two editorials this week waging war on the use of such words as "Wi-fi" and "iPhone", saying "mingling foreign words in Chinese has damaged the Chinese language's purity and undermined communication".

To solve the problem, the Guangming Daily urged the Chinese government to quickly provide Chinese translations of imported foreign words before they became widely used by the public.

But many people online mocked the latest attempt to get rid of foreign words from Chinese, calling it the "grand competition to keep the purity of the Chinese language". The phrase received almost 130,000 hits.

"Excuse me, do you know where the Very Important Person lounge is?", pretending to have a conversation without using the word VIP.

Another wrote: "Today's level of 'atmospheric particulate matter with diameter of 2.5 micrometres of less' has broken the record again," making fun of not being able to use the term PM2.5 that measures air pollution.

This comedy show about geeks is now not available in China
Previously China Central Television banned its anchors from using the term "NBA" during broadcasts and they had to refer to the organization as the "US professional basketball association".

Basketball fans were not amused, and the severe backlash resulted in CCTV backing down.

The Chinese government is trying hard to clamp down on foreign influences with further tightening of the media. This week top video sites like Sohu video stopped providing online streaming for such popular TV shows as The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife.

Why The Big Bang Theory? It's just about a bunch of geeks, unless the Chinese government thinks they are revealing state secrets in code...

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Voicing Support for Occupy Central

Occupy Central isn't just about universal suffrage but protests against meddling
The Occupy Central movement got a good shot in the arm when some 70 people in the financial field declared their support for the civil disobedience movement this summer.

On Wednesday they published an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping in newspapers, saying Hong Kong's economic health and integrity are in peril due to the erosion of press freedom, and the flow of suspicious money and underhanded political manoeuvers that are undermining fairness in banking and financial services.

In part the letter says: "Hong Kong's existing political system has become the stumbling block to the city's long-term social, political and economic growth and is the root cause of social division and disharmony in Hong Kong."

According to the letter, the solution is to ensure the city's elections are open, without Beijing manipulating the outcome by deciding which candidates are allowed to run or who gets to vote.

China's national legislature has said the election of Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017 "may be implemented by universal suffrage", but Beijing says the candidates should "love China and love Hong Kong", and has hinted it would choose who would be on the ballot.

Currently only 1,200 people handpicked by Beijing are allowed to vote for the chief executive. Sound like a fixed race?

It's interesting this small group of finance people are concerned about universal suffrage, as critics to the Occupy Central movement claim the protest will disrupt business in the area and dent the city's image as a financial powerhouse.

"Most people think people who work in banking or finance only focus on work, or people say we are the beneficiary of this system," said Au Lai-chong, a marketing manager at an investment firm.

"But that's not true," she said. "in the long run, if you want to maintain an international banking and financial centre in Hong Kong, you need to have a good system, a good framework, in order to protect it."

Hong Kong Baptist University political scientist Michael DeGolyer, says public levels of discontent are similar to those in 2003 when the Hong Kong government tried to pass Article 23 that prohibits acts of subversion.

A massive July 1 protest that year resulted in the proposal being shelved and Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee resigning and then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa stepping down "for health reasons".

"People in Hong Kong have been characterized as politically apathetic, but that's the wrong term," DeGolyer said. "They are extremely alert to things that might threaten them, their families and their fortunes."

With the increasingly widening income gap between the rich and the poor, people like Edward CK Chin, who runs an investment fund, believe the city is being run by 0.01 percent, "what I like to call the ruling class", he said.

He said it is increasingly difficult for those in finance and banking without guanxi or relationships with Chinese Communist Party elite to get lucrative jobs. "They definitely don't compete on the same level playing field," Chin said.

What's interesting is that Chin, Au and others in this Occupy Central support group, is that they are encouraged by mainlanders living in Hong Kong. "They have seen how it works on both sides. They don't want this city to die," Chin adds.

In describing the current state of affairs in the finance and banking industry, Bill Tsang, a recently retired senior manager at the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing says it best: "Gradually the apple has become rotten," he said.

"The mainlanders, they get big deals, not because of their competence, but maybe for political relationships or guanxi. Corruption culture has now already come to Hong Kong," Tsang says.

Scary thought, but not surprising. Occupy Central is a way for them to fight back, and take back the city, and right now it's gaining momentum.

Friday, 25 April 2014

At Last, Closure

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and his son walk out of the Hong Kong aiport
Finally almost four years later, there is a resolution to the Manila hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong people dead and a black travel warning to the Philippines.

Manilla Mayor Joseph Estrada, along with police chief Alan Purisima and cabinet secretary Jose Rene Alemendras came to Hong Kong this week.

Estrada handed over two resolutions passed by Manilla's city council expressing the authorities' apology and declaring August 23 will be from now on a day of prayer for the souls of those who died.

Although the final agreement did not contain the word "apologize", the Philippine government expressed its "most sorrowful regret and profound sympathy" over the tragedy that saw sacked police officer Rolando Mendoza hijack a Hong Kong tour bus before he was shot dead.

Tse Chi-lin, brother of Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, said the two national-level Philippine officials used the words "apologize" and "sorry" when they had an emotional meeting with the families for about an hour.

The victims' families also received an undisclosed amount of compensation which they said was acceptable.

For the longest time Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to apologize, perhaps not wanting to be legally liable for the deaths and injuries to the victims. However, the government completely botched the rescue attempt that was followed live on television.

As punishment, the Hong Kong government under then chief executive Donald Tsang put the Philippines under the black travel warning as a way to scare people from travelling there -- and it severely impacted the country's reputation.

We hope now the families can move on and put this dark event behind them, though we can imagine there will still be tensions between Aquino and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was annoyed when meeting the Philippine president and put in an awkward seating arrangement on the sidelines of meeting in Bali in October.

After arriving in Hong Kong, an appropriate selfie in a Rolls?
Thanks to Leung for taking one for the team and everyone else who continued to fight for what they believed in.

It's time to move forward and ask questions like what was Estrada's son doing taking selfies with his tongue sticking out while sitting in the backseat of a Rolls Royce?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Here We Go Again

Another kid relieving himself on the streets of Hong Kong, flaring tensions
A few days ago Hong Kong had another mainland Chinese kid urinating on the street, this time in Mongkok.

Two young men filmed the incident and a row erupted with passers-by. As the husband, wife and child were surrounded, the woman desperately tried to explain that they had found a public toilet, but there was a long queue so they had no choice but have the child relieve himself on the street.

"The kid was going to pee in his pants, what do you want me to do?" the mother asked the young men before a scuffle broke out and the parents attempted to snatch the memory card from one of the young man's camera.

The husband and wife, both two-way permit holders, were then arrested on suspicion of theft and assault respectively, said the police.

While the woman was released on bail and ordered to report back to police in mid-May pending an investigation, the husband was released unconditionally.

Nevertheless, the report of the peeing incident created another uproar in Hong Kong and the mainland, resulting in rising tensions as well as divided opinions.

Interestingly on the mainland there were those who felt the Hong Kong people overreacted, while others thought the family should have been more civilized and gone to a public toilet.

And now Chinese state media have weighed in. The nationalistic Global Times criticized the pair for being "more uncivilized" than the family, and today the People's Daily had an editorial that said both parties were in the wrong.

The editorial started off that the number of these peeing incidents was not large, a handful of incidents compared to the 30 million mainland visitors to Hong Kong each year.

And then the article went on to say "It is normal for kids to have difficulties holding in their urine. If there is a long queue at the washroom... one can understand the difficulties of being parents".

In the end the editorial concludes: "It takes a lot of self-reflection and learning to achieve civilization, while experiences are also required for travelling. Both the tourists and [the people at] the destination need to raise their level of civilization to get along with each other. The crux of it is understanding."

What Chinese state media don't understand is that urinating on the street is not only an ugly scene, but a public health hazard. Hong Kong people are shocked at seeing kids relieve themselves on the street because their own kids are toilet trained at a young age, and particularly post-SARS, locals are more sensitive to hygiene and expect others to do the same.

Which is why the Chinese and Hong Kong governments need to do more to educate mainlanders when they travel abroad -- and yes Hong Kong is considered an international city despite it being technically part of China.

Perhaps maps and guidebooks geared towards mainland tourists should indicate where public washrooms are so there is no excuse of not finding one. And if a child is not yet toilet trained, perhaps a diaper is in order?

Hong Kong doesn't need more of these incidents to flare up again -- we're just trying to deal with the massive influx of visitors as it is...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hong Kong's Top 10 Killers

In future, Hong Kong will have more age-related diseases, particularly dementia
Hong Kong people are living longer and dying from more age-related diseases.

The Health Department released figures that show the number of Hong Kong people killed by the top 10 diseases rose by 18 percent to 36,552 last year from 31,001 in 2003.

This is in line with the city's population growth which is now at 7.25 million, and the number of people aged 65 and over rose 19 percent to 978,000 last year.

Because of medical advances, people are suffering less from diabetes (356 last year, 783 in 2003), but age-related diseases like dementia have increased significantly (1,000 in 2013, 256 in 2003).

Cancer is still the number one killer, claiming 40 percent of deaths, followed by pneumonia and heart disease.

On the upside, fewer people are dying from cancer because it is detected earlier from regular health checks and treatments are more targeted than before, according to Dr Daniel Chua Tsin-tien, associate director of the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital's radiotherapy department.

He added that bad habits, pollution and lack of exercise also contribute to rising cancer cases.

Alzheimer's disease expert Wilfred Leung Chi-hang says while the number of those who died from dementia might seem low, the elderly died from its complications.

"More cases of dementia are expected as the city sees a longer life expectancy and an aging population," he said.

Dementia damages the brain's cognitive abilities, affecting thinking and reasoning, and in severe stages, the brain damage can lead to organ failure.

Leung says there is a shortage of facilities for the age-related syndrome, with only about 10 percent of suffers receiving specialist care.

He added there were only 30 day-care centres in Hong Kong, mostly self-financed, that offer treatment, but it costs about HK$6,000 a month so not many can afford it.

"We hope that the government can increase resources and support towards dementia patients," said Leung. "We hope that at least patients will be able to enjoy a better quality of life with their family in the early stages of the condition before it turns severe and [they become] unable to communicate."

While it's frightening to see cancer is still in the top spot, it's heartening to know other diseases are about the same or less. Dementia is another scary disease to have since no cure has been found and there are many different kinds of dementia.

The Hong Kong government is concerned about its growing aging population, but what it's doing to manage and prevent age-related diseases has yet to be seen...

Top 10 causes of death in 2013

1. Cancer
2. Pneumonia
3. Diseases of heart
4. Cerebrovascular diseases
5. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
6. External causes of morbidity and mortality
7. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis
8. Dementia
9. Septicaemia
10. Diabetes mellitus

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Green Goodness

A proud baker at the launch of the iBakery pop up store
A friend of mine, Chan Chun-wai is a long-time food and travel writer. His Facebook updates show pictures of him traveling all over the place from France to Iran and everywhere in between, which makes many of us envious of his job.

But despite his jet-setting lifestyle he does things for the local community, such as promoting social enterprises and supporting friends who open cafes and shops.

Most recently though he was able to combine his two passions together -- travel and food for a good cause.

He travels to Kyoto frequently, so much so that he has become a Kansai Tourism Ambassador. How you get that status I'm not sure, but seems like a glamorous title.

The green tea cookies produced by iBakery in Hong Kong
Chan often stays at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto and one day the hotel's general manager invited him to try some green tea cookies and Chan though they tasted great, having a strong matcha tea flavour and also there were no preservatives in them.

The GM said that he was interested in promoting the cookies in Hong Kong, but not necessarily for profit, just as a way to make people aware of matcha tea and the cookies from Kyoto.

So Chan said that he'd think about it but didn't come up with an idea right away.

After some weeks of pondering, Chan remembered that he liked to support iBakery, a social enterprise started by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. The bakery employs people with disabilities (about half of the total staff) to produce a range of cookies to sell.

Food and travel writer Chan Chun-wai thinking green
Then Chan came up with the idea of having iBakery produce the green tea cookies and selling them. Head pastry chef Yasuda Shunji from the Hyatt Regency Kyoto came to Hong Kong to teach the staff at iBakery how to make the cookies, and the matcha also comes from Japan.

The cookies, about eight rectangular pieces per pack are selling for only HK$48, and packaged in a green box with "leaves" on top.

If you're in Hong Kong, there's currently an iBakery pop up shop at 1/F, Windsor House in Causeway Bay which is open from 11am to 9pm.

The cookies have a fantastic intense matcha tea flavour. One or two pieces maximum for me, but great to share with friends and support people who are working hard to become more independent in their lives.

Monday, 21 April 2014

China's Top Guns

One of China's F15 fighter jets preparing for take off from the Liaoning
The big news today was China releasing an official training video of F15 fighter jets on the carrier the Liaoning.

In the 6:41 minute video, the aircraft is shown with its wings folded and then raised up prepared for take-off from the carrier.

Viewers can also see the pilots training by running along the beach and the lifting weights, and then getting ready for their flights. When they are up in the air, there's a quick pan of the dashboard, but not enough to get a good look of the proprietary information...

It all looks so Top Gun -- minus Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards. Don't even think of having a female love interest in this propaganda clip. It's all about testosterone here.

Some of the scenes are beautifully shot, particularly those of the carrier at sunset, while the aerial shots are very cool and remind viewers of the 1986 blockbuster film directed by Tony Scott (who died almost two years ago).

However, there are some cheesy bits, like a man in white uniform whipping out his sword for dramatic sound purposes, and the dark room full of naval officers staring at their computer screens? Do they really go to work like that everyday?

Nevertheless it is pretty impressive, as China is eager to show off its "home grown" fighter jets that were put into service two years ago.

The video ends with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a state-owned aerospace and defense company. So no, it wasn't issued by the military, but the company behind the jet fighters.


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Open for Business... for Now

It's open, but will the June 4 Museum stay open in the long term?
The unofficial Tiananmen Square museum had its soft opening in Tsim Sha Tsui East today despite a lawsuit by the building's owners to have the museum removed on the grounds that it breached the building's rules of use.

Organizer Lee Cheuk-yan explained the museum is designed like a maze, presenting many pictures and explanations of what happened 25 years ago and finally ends with a two-metre replica of the Goddess of Democracy.

"I hope to attract both Hong Kong students and mainland visitors so that the truth about the June 4 massacre can be passed on to the next generation and radiated to the mainland," said Lee, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

Lee believes the legal action from the owners' corporation of the Foo Hoo Centre on Austin Avenue was politically motivated on the pretext the museum would be a nuisance to other tenants.

However a reporter visited other tenants who didn't think the museum would be an issue, and claimed a store buying back cell phones from mainlanders was more troublesome.

Nevertheless, the museum has come up with an interesting souvenir that will hopefully evade customs officials back in China.

"We have produced USB memory sticks containing visuals and other kinds of documents about the June 4 student movement. Compared with clothes printed with June 4 information, I believe such memory sticks are much more likely to make it into the mainland," Lee said.

Perhaps the Chinese government will not be able to whitewash this watershed incident much longer?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Born to Run

Run Forrest, run! Hong Kong has its own character who loves to run
Stephen Poon Wing-sing is billed as Hong Kong's Forrest Gump because he likes to run -- a lot.

One day he decided to run 40 kilometres a day for 27 consecutive days around the entire coast of Taiwan.

"I just felt like running," says the 38-year-old Poon. "I felt that there was an urge that came to me and summoned me to run. There was no other reason."

Sound like the endearing character played by Tom Hanks?

Poon only chose Taiwan because he had recently completed a marathon there and so he bought an air ticket and with no detailed plan or even a map, he literally just started running.

Stephen Poon enjoys the sport so much he'll run anywhere
He started from the southern city of Kaohsiung on January 11 and then went all the way around and came back February 6 with minor aches and pains.

And like Forrest Gump, while Poon ran he learned a lot of life lessons along the way.

"I thought of lots of things about what had happened over the years," he says. "I began to learn to let things go."

One of his disappointments was not winning a major competition after having trained for years. He had thought that if he could win a top event then he could get funding from the government to have a full-time athletics career.

In 2004 he ran his personal best time of 2:38 at a marathon in Macau, which made him the fastest Chinese entrant.

However, he over-trained and had to drop out of all competitions for the rest of the year, and in the end he cut short his athletic career in his early 30s.

Poon worked at ordinary jobs for a while, but then two years ago running called to him again and he became a coach, training elite and leisure runners in Happy Valley.

He says the secret to performing one's best is to focus. "When your aim is clear, you know a lot of difficulties and hardship can be sorted out," Poon says. "But for me, I think I have really learned to enjoy running now. I am running for running itself."

Spoken like a true athlete.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Currying Favour

Zhang Xiaoming giving a speech when he first took office in Hong Kong
Earlier this week the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong held a fundraising dinner and the city's largest Beijing loyalist political party raked the money in.

About 800 people attended the event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre who raised HK$63.8 million, with the hosts of each of the 70 tables shelling out at least HK$88,000.

Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong wrote a piece of calligraphy that translates as "a long success in the future".

Apparently there was fierce bidding for this piece de resistance and in the end property tycoon Hui Wing-mau won with his final bid of HK$13.8 million.

Hui Wing-mau (left) holds calligraphy by Zhang (far right)
According to Forbes, he has a personal net worth of $5.3 billion, and is founder and chairman of Shimao Property Holdings, one of China's largest real estate developers.

Possibly buoyed by how much his talents are worth, Zhang also sang a song, raising an additional HK$11 million from other bidders.

Hong Kong's richest woman, Pansy Ho Chiu-king, Stanley Ho's daughter and a director of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau bid HK$5 million for a painting by former deputy director of the Hong Kong office, Li Gang.

Perhaps Hui and Ho will receive further preferential treatment in the next few years if they haven't already...

Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming slammed Zhang assisting the DAB in its fundraising activity.

"Under the principle of 'Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong' and a 'high degree of autonomy', the liaison office should not interfere by favouring a particular political party," Lee said on Commercial Radio.

Just for comparison, the Civic Party raised HK$2.8 million at a fundraising auction last Friday, while the Democratic Party gained HK$2.35 million at a similar event last year.

With the DAB rolling in the dough, it's no contest who will win the propaganda race in Hong Kong...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fergie's Big Red Sale

Sir Alex Ferguson claims Asia holds great affection for Manchester United
Wine lovers in Hong Kong are stirred up in a frenzy with the news that retired Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will auction off a good selection of his wines -- reds of course -- in the city next month.

There's about 5,000 bottles up for grabs at the Christie's sale, with an estimated value of HK$39 million ($5 million). One star lot features six bottles of Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1999 together with a Manchester United Champions League shirt from the same year signed by the former ManU boss. Together the lot is worth HK$850,000.

Ferguson claims he wanted to auction off some of his collection in Hong Kong as "Asia is a part of the world that holds great affection for Manchester United". How about perhaps because he knows he'll get record prices for his wines?

Bottles of Chateau Petrus will be auctioned off next month
Last year Christie's Hong Kong sold a dozen bottles of French Burgundy for a world record of HK$3.67 million.

Of his collection, 75 percent is from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, a top Burgundy wine which is hot property these days.

His cellar includes bottles from every year he was with Manchester United, from 1986 to 2013; 1999 is a good year for him, as the team won an unprecedented treble tournaments -- the English Premier League, the Champions League and FA Cup.

"People keep saying, 'What was the best moment of your life as a manager?' and '99 is without question," Ferguson said in an interview. "There was always this thing about my career that I never had won the Champions League, so to win it in the way we did win it was absolutely fantastically special. And it coincided with a vintage; you were talking about Romanee-Conti '99, a really special year. I think we deserved that."

The wines go under the hammer on May 24 in Hong Kong and then sales of his other wines will take place in London in June and online.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Remembering Reformer Hu Yaobang

Former General Secretary Hu Yaobang remembered
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of former senior Chinese official Hu Yaobang's death.

It was his passing that sparked spontaneous public grieving and then students converging on Tiananmen Square demanding democracy. We all know what happened next.

Hu was highly respected for trying to clear people's names after several political purges and try to free China from Maoist dogma.

"Hu Yaobang launched the campaign to vindicate people who were wrongly accused. Without him, I doubt whether it could have taken place at all," said He Fang, a 91-year-old former senior official at the foreign ministry.

Much like Deng Xiaoping, Hu was also purged recalled and purged again. As Deng rose to power, so did Hu, appointing him to several powerful positions.

Students remember Hu in Tiananmen
When Hu was General Secretary, he tried to get officials to govern more transparently and loosen economic controls.

However Party elders opposed market reforms, calling them "bourgeois liberalization" and they found an excuse to get rid of him when there were student demonstrations across the country in 1987, blaming him for the disruptions.

While Hu was forced to resign as General Secretary, he was allowed to keep his Politburo seat. He died of a heart attack on April 15, 1989 and the day after people began small-scale demonstrations, commemorating him and also calling on the government to reassess his legacy.

A week later, a day before the funeral, some 100,000 students marched into Tiananmen Square and then began occupying it. Hu's successor Zhao Ziyang had to deal with the crisis and then he too was forced out.

Twenty-five years on, there has hardly been any mention of Hu's name officially, though former president Hu Jintao paid a surprise visit to the Hu formal residence a few days earlier.

Hu's son, Hu Dehua laments that the window of opportunity for reforms was lost a quarter of a century ago.

His father believed that political reforms had to go hand-in-hand with economic ones and in 1986 had planned to draft a law to protect press freedoms, but he was purged a year later before it could be enacted.

"Press freedom should have been the first step in political reform, but there is still no law on it... I guess it will never come out," Hu Dehua said.

Soldiers and students on the day of Hu's funeral
"When you have no law to protect these rights, everything is in the hands of the officials. Although we have a constitution which guarantees freedoms in speech and assembly... in fact, there are hardly any freedoms. We have no right to supervise [the government]."

Hu Dehua went on to say: "Today, corruption among officials is impossible to rein in and ethnic tension is intense. There was a window for reform then [in the 1980s] but it was missed and I don't know when the next one will come."

Although he lost his position, Hu Yaobang did not regret it, but according to his son, he was heartbroken when reforms that could have brought checks and balances on the government's power were not enacted.

Hu Dehua, 65, most remembers his father for making him realize Maoist dogma controlled the country.

He says that at the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1968, the senior Hu asked his teenage son whether he thought the popular slogan, "Everything we do for Chairman Mao; and in all our actions we closely follow and obey Chairman Mao" -- was correct.

The younger Hu did not question it at all.

"Can't you use your brains? This is clearly problematic," Hu quoted his father as saying. "Everything we do should be for the people, not for Mao."

When he heard this, Hu Dehua felt like he'd been struck by lightning and saw his father as an exceptional man. "He did not follow the herd."

And 25 years later what has happened to China? Despite ever-increasing economic growth, there are even greater restrictions on the media, and political reforms are only within the Party and not the general public.

It makes one wonder what if Hu Yaobang continued in his position and what China would look like today...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

PLA Scrutinizes... Itself

The PLA protects Hong Kong, but can it be accountable to itself?
It's interesting to read that the Communist Party of China and the People's Liberation Army are setting up offices at the local government level to better monitor soldiers for illegal activities and address grievances.

The move comes following the crackdown on officials' lavish spending and now it has also spread to the PLA in a bid to clean up the military, improve morale and root out graft without affecting public confidence in soldiers.

"All departments should attach importance to the work of protecting military rights, especially those that have a major influence on state security and social stability," said a document jointly issued by the Communist Party's Central Political and Law Commission and the PLA's General Political Department.

The notice added government authorities should also crack down on military-related crimes, such as stealing and selling PLA secrets, theft or destruction of equipment or facilities.

A closer scrutiny into the PLA came late last month after former deputy logistics chief Gu Junshan was charged with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power. His former boss, Xu Caihou, who was previously CMC vice-chairman was also detained.

The document says all provinces and municipalities should establish leading groups and standing offices at the county, city and provincial levels. Heads of the local political and law commissions will lead the groups, while key judicial and government organizations will take part.

What about Hong Kong? In the former Prince of Wales barracks which has now finally been transformed into a PLA garrison with a giant red star emblazoned on the top, houses a number of PLA soldiers. Will an office also be set up to scrutinize them as well?

One hardly thinks the grassroots soldiers need to be disciplined for corruption, but those higher up the ranks with access to all this money and assets are the ones more prone to misdeeds.

It will be interesting to see if these offices catch more PLA soldiers and higher-ranking officers doing dirty deeds. After all, these bureaus will be setup by the PLA and CPC themselves...

Monday, 14 April 2014

Fashion Statement

Nick Cheung's bold fashion choice for best actor
Director Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster swept the Hong Kong Film Awards last night with 12 prizes including best film, best director and best actress.

However, it was Nick Cheung Ka-fai who won best actor for Unbeatable, a movie about a former boxing champion down and out on his luck and trying to conquer hardships.

When pictures of him with a six-pack went viral, people were not only in awe that the 45-year-old actor could achieve this, but this meant that any other man who put his mind to it could get the same Adonis body.

Cheung worked out for nine months to achieve this body!
But preparing for the role of Ching Fai was suffering, Cheung says. He worked out in the gym for three hours everyday for nine months, and ate only egg whites and boiled chicken or steamed fish.

Not an easy act to follow.

And so it's not surprising Cheung won the best actor award for all his sacrifices.

His choice of wearing a white tuxedo -- tailor made from Ermenegildo Zegna no less -- was a bold one, though from the pictures here the trousers look a bit on the short side, or is it the black shoes that throw us off?

Men's magazine GQ says pairing a white tuxedo with a black bow tie and shoes is appropriate, though in this case perhaps wingtips in black and white might have been snazzier?

Is this outfit stylish or too risque?
On the women's side Carina Lau Kar-ling's halter outfit by Ralph & Russo seems to be missing some fabric below her hips... or are we too conservative?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Water Scare

Anxious Lanzhou residents raid supermarkets for bottled water
While Chinese President Xi Jinping is on his hunt for "tigers" and "flies", the contamination of drinking water in Lanzhou, Gansu province smells like something fishy going on.

The tap water there contains benzene levels that far exceed national limits and residents weren't even told about this until 18 hours after tests were conducted. When benzene is ingested it can cause vomiting, dizziness, convulsions and even death in high dosages.

As a result people have raided supermarkets for bottled water or lined up at stations to get fresh water distributed by hoses.

The sole water supplier for Lanzhou's downtown is Veolia Water, a Sino-French joint venture. However, Xinhua reported that soil along a duct between two of Veolia's water works had been contaminated by crude oil leaking from a buried pipeline of Lanzhou Chemincal, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation.

The investigation was revealed by the chief of the city's environmental protection bureau, Yan Zijiang.

Those less fortunate wait to fill up containers with fresh water
"The channel was carrying water to Veolia Water's No 1 and No 2 plants for decades. Lanzhou Petrochemical's oil pipeline lies under this ditch," Yan said, adding that the leakage had been located and was being repaired.

China Central Television also reported that the petrochemical pipeline was laid just next to the water plant's internal reservoir.

How could a crude pipeline be built next door to a water plant? And more importantly, who approved this?

One would think this was common sense, but either it was completely overlooked (with the possibility of bribes) or no one thought it would be a problem (with the possibility of bribes).

There are over 2 million people in Lanzhou, does it not matter that these people need clean water to live? What did they do wrong to deserve contaminated water?

Apparently Lanzhou residents had been complaining about foul-smelling water since last month, but the government claimed it was just excessive ammonia and was safe to drink. It is unclear for now if the two incidents are related, but ingesting ammonia, even watered down, could affect the esophagus and stomach.

The local government's unconcerned attitude illustrates how it hardly cares for the people it works for and more importantly that officials are probably drinking bottled water.

While Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli is reportedly shocked by the current water contamination, will the government punish those responsible and put regulations in place so that this situation does not happen again -- in any city, town or county?

The incident may inspire some residents to become activists, but at the very least will make people in China more aware of how scarce and crucial clean water is.

What good is it for the country to be the world's second biggest economy and yet its people don't have enough clean water and air to live?

Perhaps Xi should be focusing on that than on "tigers" and "flies"?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Murdoch Moving On

Murdoch is starting the new chapter in his life, and what about ex-wife Wendi?
Media baron Rupert Murdoch says that allegations his ex-wife Wendi Deng had an affair with former UK prime minister Tony Blair led to him divorcing her after 14 years of marriage.

The 83-year-old founder, chairman and CEO of News Corporation also confirmed the existence of a note in which Deng gushed about Blair that was published in Vanity Fair last month.

"I regret the whole Vanity Fair thing," he said in an interview with Fortune magazine. "I wish we just could have got a divorce quietly."

The damning note in a diary entry says in part: "Whatever why I'm so so missing Tony. Because he is so so charming and his clothes are so good. He has such good body. Also I love his power on stage... and what else what else and what else," in broken English.

Murdoch said the marriage fell apart after Vanity Fair reported rumours that Deng and Blair conducted their affair at Murdoch's Carmel, California ranch.

Well, you know, everybody was talking about these things and never telling me anything," he said. "I don't really want to go into this. But then I was told two pretty circumstantial things about the ranch.

"I was in Australia. When I got back, I naturally asked the staff, and it opened up. That's the story. And then, you know, a week later I filed [for divorce]. As soon as I could find a lawyer."

Did Murdoch really have to find a lawyer? Doesn't he have an army of them on hand to cater to all his needs?

In any event, there have been rumours of Deng having dalliances with other men, not just Blair. While she is attracted to power as evidenced by Murdoch and the former PM, she apparently also likes to play with younger men.

As for informing Deng about the divorce, the story goes the then couple hosted a party in their $44 million penthouse. During the festivities he allegedly whispered in Deng's ear that he was divorcing her. Sounds like it should be in a movie, right?

What Deng does next will be interesting now that her days of leveraging Murdoch's connections are over... She is the model many ambitious mainland Chinese women try to emulate in their quest for quick money and power that ends in a pretty decent payout, but in this case with a sordid reputation...

Friday, 11 April 2014

Like Father, Like Daughter

Jewher Ilham speaking to US Congress about her father's situation in China
The daughter of Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti told a hearing in US Congress on Wednesday of how her father's arrest has shown China's low tolerance for peaceful expressions of grievances by the minority group.

Tohti is an economist in Beijing and is one of the most vocal critics of China's treatment of Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group. He was detained in January and accused of separatism, a charge that could result in the death penalty.

Jewher Ilham, 19, is studying at Indiana University and she told US lawmakers her father is not separatist and is opposed to violence.

"In fact he is exactly the sort of person a rational Chinese political structure would seek to engage in order to address the conditions of the Uyghur people," she told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which looks at human rights.

Ilham Tohti has not been heard from since he was detained
"By arresting my father and threatening him with charges that carry the severest penalties, it has driven many Uyghurs to a point where they can't even imagine that their... grievances can get any sort of hearing under Chinese rule," she said.

Ilham said she had no news of her 44-year-old father's condition and she was worried about her family, which are under 24-hour surveillance, with as many as eight security officers outside their home.

She gave a prepared statement in English and explained that initially she was planning to join her father for only a month when he took a one-year position at Indiana University from February last year.

But Tohti was stopped at Beijing International Airport from going to the US and so Ilham went on her own. She has been studying English at the university ever since.

Beijing is naive to think they have silenced Tohti -- instead they have given an opportunity to his daughter to take up his cause -- outside of China. With her father's integrity respected as a measured and rational academic, Ilham may join the cause to push for better human rights conditions for Uyghurs in China.

As shown by her eloquence in speaking English, she can explain to the world why Uyghurs are oppressed in China, thus shining a spotlight on the country's dark stain of human rights abuses.

Arresting Tohti has made Uyghurs more desperate, which may explain why a group of them committed the horrific knife attack in the train station in Kunming in early March.

If China wants to decrease its chances of having more innocent lives killed, it should release Tohti and listen to him talk about Uyghurs' grievances.

He is the best representative the Uyghurs have, and the Central Government's best hope in deescalating tensions in the region. But will Beijing listen?

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Picture of the Day: Alfredo Rodriguez

Alfredo Rodriguez doing his jazz magic at the piano
Just came back late from a concert by Cuban jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and The Invasion Band.

They flew in this morning from Los Angeles and were in tip top condition to play at Sevva in Landmark Prince's.

I saw him perform at the piano two years ago in the same venue and this time he seemed even more creative, deft at the keyboard and lyrical. He and his band would start off creating disparate sounds that eventually would make their way to each other and blend effortlessly and eventually climax into an intoxicating blend of music that kept heads bobbing all night.

He's currently on tour to promote his latest album, Alfredo Rodriguez The Invasion Parade that he co-produced with Quincy Jones.

Check him out if he ever comes near you!

After his performance we were told Lionel Richie would come by, but he didn't make an appearance on stage. Instead we got a quick glimpse of him before escaping into the elevator and then in his car.

Oh well! The evening was definitely a memorable one!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dropping Demand

There's a serious drop in demand for shark's fin from Hong Kong to China
Shark fin isn't as popular these days thanks to public campaigns and WWF-Hong Kong says the trade in shark fins from Hong Kong to the mainland has dropped by almost 90 percent. Overall imports fell by 35 percent, compared with 2012.

Part of it is due to China's crackdown on corruption and luxury spending by officials and also environmentalists persuading people to stop eating the delicacy, and shaming commercial airlines that carry shark fin cargo.

The mainland was previously Hong Kong's largest re-export market, but now it's down to fourth place, replaced by Vietnam for the first time since 2010. Who knew Vietnam had a big market for shark's fin? Or is it an indirect way to get the shark fins to China?

In any event, Tracy Tsang Chui-chi, WWF-Hong Kong senior program director is pleased with the drop in figures cited by the government.

"We were very surprised when we saw this figure as the mainland has traditionally been Hong Kong's biggest re-export market. We do not rule out the possibility that the central government's anti-corruption measures could have played a role in the big drop in re-exports."

Fin exports to Hong Kong dropped from 8,285 tonnes in 2012 to 5,412 tonnes, their lowest level in more than a decade, the green group said.

Tsang is pushing for more, saying the Hong Kong government should be more transparent and implement a coding practice used for bluefin tuna to allow for the identification of shark species that need to be tracked.

"Scientific identification, through DNA testing of randomly selected shark fins, could also be deployed for verification purposes, Tsang said.

She also called on the government to collect and release full statistics on the shark fin trade, including species, volume and country of origin, as trade in eight shark species are now restricted under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Local shark fin traders obviously aren't happy with the plunge in numbers. Ricky Leung Lak-kee, chairman of the Hong Kong Marine Products Association says the local shark fin industry has been hit hard by the drop in demand from China.

The industry saw a 60 percent drop in shark fin import prices and a 20 to 30 percent fall in business in the past year, he said.

He rejected claims that the shark fin trade hurt the environment. Leung said two-thirds of Hong Kong's imports were from blue sharks that are not listed on CITES.

"The industry follows international law stipulated by CITES. There is a reason why it exists... I don't understand why green groups and the government keep discriminating against us," he said.

While blue sharks may not be on the list, no sharks should be killed just for their fins, plain and simple. They are necessary to keep the ocean's ecosystems running smoothly and having fewer of them is a bad sign for all of us.

It is heartening to see the demand for shark's fin drop significantly and hope the trend continues. Shark fin soup apparently dates back to the Ming Dynasty. How they thought of the idea of taking a shark's fin and making it into a culinary delicacy is bizarre, but it's a sign of wealth many cannot resist today.

Nevertheless, with greater awareness, we hope the dish may eventually be only found in history books.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Never Catching Up

Hong Kong has lots of tiny match box-sized homes beyond the reach of many
This afternoon a colleague of mine received numerous phone calls on her mobile and I asked her why she was so popular.

She explained that she and her three cats lived in a flat over 300 square feet in Kowloon's Cheung Sha Wan, a 10-minute walk to the MTR station for over HK$8,000 a month.

But now the landlord had increased the rent to HK$10,000 which is beyond her budget so she and her furry friends have to move.

Now she is in the process of finding another place to live, hence the numerous calls from agents. She is considering a flat that is a 10-minute walk from the West Rail Line that goes towards Tuen Mun for almost HK$10,000.

In her early 40s, she hopes to at least rent a more comfortable (bigger) place, and even with a decent-paying salary she finds the rent increases hard to bear.

"We're basically paying the landlord's mortgage," she said with a sigh of frustration. "The government says us young people should make sacrifices by working harder and saving more money, but every time I am ready to buy a flat, the prices go up even higher and I have to save more. It's non stop."

She feels the government is in cahoots with property developers, and not looking out for the interests of young people -- who are in their 40s and working hard to try to buy a flat of their own.

But they are limited by their salaries in terms of earning potential so how can they catch up with runaway real estate prices?

Unless they won the Mark 6 or suddenly inherited millions of dollars, it's near impossible for average people -- considered on the low-end of the middle-class scale -- to afford a place to live.

Having a place to live has always been the biggest issue of living in Hong Kong -- back then flats were considered expensive and looking back now they were a bargain. But who had that much money then?

It's harder now with Hong Kongers competing with mainlanders for flats, though the latter thankfully are more interested in luxury apartments. Some critics believe a bubble has been forming in the property sector for years and now it's time to pop.

But will it? Everyone needs a place to live...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Trying to Stay Applicable

Hong Kong government departments have lots of apps... have you used them?
We find it amusing that the Hong Kong government is trying to be relevant in the digital age as its departments have created lots of mobile phone applications -- but no one downloads them.

This was exposed by lawmakers on Friday who found that government departments were spending tens of millions of dollars on apps, some of which have only had a few as 10 downloads.

Nevertheless the most popular government app downloaded was My Observatory from the Observatory -- 3.8 million downloads until early this year for the weather app that everyone checks constantly. The department spent more than HK$26 million producing the app and plans to spend HK$12.9 million more on the next two years.

A potentially useful app on red tide information was presented by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in January but only had 10 downloads. It cost HK$128,000 to create and maintain for the first year.

"The biggest problems is that many departments develop apps and forget about them," information technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok said at a special meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee. "It's a waste of effort."

People Power's Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said, "Some of those apps cost quite a lot to develop. How can we tell if they are cost-effective?"

Mok said the apps contain interesting information, but few people knew about them because they weren't being promoted.

He added the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had developed a series of five apps that only had about 30 downloads since December.

"The department manages parks and sports complexes. They can simply put posters up in the premises," Mok said. Seems like a no brainer, doesn't it...

He said it would be hard to set a benchmark for a minimum number of downloads, but at the same time if an app only had a few hundred downloads, it wouldn't be appealing to people, and so there needed to be a more coordinated push to promote the apps created by different departments.

Government departments need to think about what the apps are going to be used for in the long term -- an app the LCSD developed about the King Yin Lei mansion, declared a monument in 2011 is not going to be of interest to many people.

However an app about the latest exhibitions and where they are would be of use, as well as tips on saving water and electricity, or recycling would be good. But at the same time, what's the point of developing apps if no one knows about them? Seems like the many departments dropped the ball on this one.

Seems like the Observatory is onto something. Imagine if it charged HK$1 a year to download its app...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Picture of the Day: Parrot Walking

An encounter with a parrot along Victoria Road
This morning we woke up to an overcast day that threatened to rain and it did by lunchtime.

So we grabbed the opportunity to take another walk along Victoria Road again. This time we walked all the way to West Island School and back in about an hour which was pretty good.

On the way back home, we saw a kite, a predatory bird circling above us and then when we looked back at eye level we encountered a woman with a white parrot on her arm and pointing out the kite to it.

We stopped and chatted with the woman, possibly in her 60s with long hair and thick glasses. She tried to coax the domesticated bird to talk, as she boasted he would argue with her and tell her off.

Babagu was shy and wouldn't speak to us
But he refused to speak and she chastised him for being shy.

We asked how long she'd had him and she replied four years, and that his name was Babagu, apparently Indonesian for parrot.

She refused to let us take her picture with her pet, so we just took a snap of Babagu instead in all his shyness...

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Discovering a Scenic Spot

Checking out the scenic spot for sunsets
This morning was another gorgeous day after a terrible week of rain. We decided to go for a walk along Victoria Road in Kennedy Town and check out the scenery there.

It's right by the water where some men try to catch fish
Under blue skies and hardly any clouds, we walked along as many buses and taxis passed by us because today is Qing Ming, the sweeping of the graves. All the buses were very full going up and coming down.

Just before we reached Mount Davis Road, there was a sign pointing to a hut saying it was a good place to watch the sunset. So we decided to check it out, going down several flights of stairs that zigzagged their way down towards the water.

Along the way we saw chunks of discarded flooring that should have belonged to tong lau flats... who put them there and why?

A small hut where visitors can hang out
When we made it to the bottom there were a bunch of Filipino women hanging out in the hut on their day off, while right by the water were two locals trying their hand at fishing.

It was a nice spot and well worth the effort to come down, though not much to do after you get there unless you do intend to have a mini picnic.

Strange to see discarded flooring dumped here
We can imagine it's a great place to watch sunsets, though with me being loved by mosquitoes I'd probably be eaten alive by them at dusk...!