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Hong Kong – Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees 林村許願樹

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Make a Wish..and wait for the magic to happen

Located at Tai Po 大埔 in the New Territories 新界, Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees 林村許願樹 are one of the most popular shrines in Hong Kong and featured in many Hong Kong dramas. Lam Chuen is especially crowded during the Lunar New Year when everyone flocks to the trees to make their wishes for the coming year. So no doubt I was full of anticipation to visit the place and make a drama wish for myself.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

How did the wishing custom start in Lam Tsuen?
In the past, fishermen would throw paper josses to every Tai Pak Kung (earth god) tree on their way to the New Territories, wishing that this would bring them good luck and protection. When a dying fisherman who sought a miracle from the tree got his wish granted in the 1960s, worshippers started flocking there and the wishing custom was set.
Another version says that there was a worshipper whose son was very slow in learning. After he had wished upon the tree, his son completely changed and made incredible academic improvement.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

There are actually two Pak Kung trees in in Fong Ma Po. One is the Wishing Tree near the entrance of the village and the other is a banyan tree farther away.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

There is also an area with statues bearing the 12 zodiac animals. Looks like a scene out of a sci-fi movie where some galactic beams will start to shoot down anytime, and an immortal appears. And I faint there and then :D

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

This, is NOT a usual sight at all – we got the tree all to ourselves!
It has been raining cats & dogs so there was no visitors, and the rain was just stopping as we arrived (now I call that luck).

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Even the dog wants a wish :)
(I wish it would stop raining!) lol

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

So what do I do?
Get a wishing card tied to an orange from one of the sellers around, write your wishes on the card and toss the wish up on the tree. The higher the wishing card lands on the tree and stays there, the more likely your wish will come true. Believe me, it’s harder than you think.
People may try to sell you incense sticks, candles and lanterns too (this is the touristy part). You do not need to feel pressured to buy.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Talk about advancement – wishes now come in a checklist! LOL
Just tick the wishes that apply. I was tempted to be greedy and tick ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Off to make my wishes!

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

If you had the same suspicion as I did looking at the tree, you are probably right. It’s an artificial tree.
The original wishing tree was a camphor tree which was accidentally burnt down by the huge pile of offerings left by visitors. It was then replaced by a bauhinia, which collapsed due to the excessive burden of offerings. The banyan tree which was then planted suffered the same fate in 2005 when the weight of the oranges caused branches to fall off. This practice was then replaced by hanging your wishes to wooden wishing boards according to your Chinese Zodiac sign instead. I guess visitors must have found this alternative not as exciting, hence this artificial tree was erected so they can continue tossing their wishes up.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Wooden wishing boards similar to those in Japanese temples
You write your wishes on a piece of yellow joss paper, roll it up and hang the “宝碟 bou dip” on the wishing board bearing your Chinese Zodiac sign.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

This is the poor Banyan tree currently undergoing rehabilitation. I call this “abuse by oranges.”

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

It’s like a very, very old lady with so many poles to prop her up. So poor thing! Human desires sometimes can be overpowering, and become a destructive force.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

While you are there, do go try the handmade beancurd store just across the road from the entrance.
You can also visit the nearby Tin Hau Temple which was built in the late 18th century, or continue the day’s journey to Yuen Lang 元朗 (via Bus 64K or the private minibuses) where there’s more yummy food and sights.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree 林村許願樹

Ryan BB is certainly excited to eat beancurd :)
Hong Kongers eat their beancurd with orange coconut sugar. It’s so addictive, I now buy that to eat with my beancurd now.

Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees
Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories
Tel:   +852 2638 3678
Opening Hours: 9:30AM to 5:30PM
Email: lamlukwing@hotmail.com
Website: www.lamtsuen.com

Getting There
1) Take the East Rail line to Tai Po Market station and take Exit A1. Hop on KMB bus route 64K or 65K (bus fare about HKD5-7) or minibus 25K and alight at Fong Ma Po Bus Stop (12 stops). Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村) are across the road.
2) Take the Tsuen Wan Line to Tai Wo Station and take Exit A. Take Bus No 64K or minibus 25K and alight at Fong Ma Po Bus Stop. Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村) are across the road.
3) Take the Tsuen Wan Line to Tai Wo Station and take Exit A. Take a taxi :)


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PMQ – Proudly Made in Hong Kong

PMQ Hong Kong
After laying dormant for almost 14 years, the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ) on Hollywood Road has found new life as Hong Kong’s latest creative hub for local designers of diverse disciplines. The 18,000sqm former heritage site houses 130 units rented out to selected locally based creative talents from the fields of design, fashion and art at a discounted rate for a maximum lease of two years, to allow them to create their own viable businesses. More established brands such as Bread and Butter and Vivienne Tam are also present on the ground and first floor to lend some clout.

PMQ is also home to five restaurants including Aberdeen Street Social by Jason Atherton & Yenn Wong,  and Spanish fine dining restaurant Vasco featuring Paolo Casagrande from two- Michelin star Barcelonan restaurant Lasarte. There are 15 pop-up spaces, 6 units for international ‘designers in residence’ to work from and a huge 6,000sqm exhibition space called the Cube which will host fashion and art events. Be sure to visit the night market run by the organisers of Island East Markets every Friday and weekend nights featuring street food from the city’s most cutting edge eateries, creations by local craftspeople and music from top musicians and DJs. I popped by Hong Kong’s newest creative spot for a look during its soft opening in May. It officially opens in late June 2014. As far as I could see from the 30% of the shops open during the soft opening – it’s a shopping haven for people who appreciate one-of-a-kind product offerings (like me), and I have no doubt it will be a hip place to hangout during the weekend evenings. Pen it down in your itinerary on your next trip to Hong Kong.


PMQ Hong KongThe site on Aberdeen Road where PMQ sits also deserves mentioning for its rich cultural heritage – it was built way back in 1889 as the Central School. The school was severely damaged during World War II and was demolished in 1948 to make way for building the Former Police Married Quarters (and where its current name PMQ was derived). After the Former Police Married Quarters were vacated in 2000, it remained empty for years amid a mire of indecision on its next usage. It was definitely a costly (in)decision as the market price of the building was estimated at $2,500m to $3,000m. The government eventually launched the ‘Conserving Central’ plan in 2009 to preserve eight key heritage sites in Central including PMQ. A $100m bid by the Musketeers Foundation (a group of 3 anonymous local businessmen who support culture and education) to turn the site into a creative hub for designers was accepted, and voila – PMQ is born.

PMQ Hong Kong

It’s heartening to see efforts have been made to maintain and enhance the original features of the site, such as these granite steps and rubble retaining wall which have existed since the opening of the Central School in 1889.

PMQ Hong Kong

PMQ consists of an adjacent pair of 7-floor buildings constructed in 1951. Architecturally, the design of the two quarters blocks reflects the architecture of the modern movement. For me, I couldn’t wait to start shopping.

PMQ Hong Kong

I was quite intrigued by these old-school postboxes on the ground floor.

PMQ Hong Kong

Some of the shops include the super famous HK lifestyle store Goods of Desire, industrial-based accessories POMCH, Crafted in Hong Kong by Kapok, Coney & Co, multi-label fashion boutique The Refinery by curated by well-known British blogger Elizabeth Lau, Smoth and Norbu which crafts spectacles out of yak and buffalo horn and even 513 Paint Shop, a designer paint shop.

PMQ Hong Kong

It’s not a place only for the arty-farty, the tourists, but local families too! The children looked so happy playing, I felt tempted to join in.

PMQ Hong Kong

These dim sum candles are just SO CUTE, they look so real!

PMQ Hong Kong

Exquisite ceramics which look good enough to eat

PMQ Hong Kong

Eco-friendly offerings

PMQ Hong Kong

I want bespoke creative agency Delication‘s “Jungles in a Bottle”.

PMQ Hong Kong

Very interesting home decor

PMQ Hong Kong

I was so tempted to get these photo frames modeled after traditional Hong Kong signboards

PMQ Hong Kong

A very good souvenir to get from Hong Kong

PMQ Hong Kong

On top of local talents, established names like Bread and Butter also set up shop on the ground floor.

PMQ Hong Kong

Even Giordano here looks better

PMQ Hong Kong

There’s a landscaped garden on the 4th level rooftop!

PMQ Hong Kong

Looks like a nice place to chill out :)

PMQ Hong Kong

A few units have been set aside to showcase the rich heritage of the site. The Central Government School was the first government school to teach a Western curriculum. Dr Sun Yat-sen and Macau casino king Stanley Ho were some of the students who studied there.

PMQ Hong Kong

3D model of the school

PMQ Hong Kong

In order to boost police recruitment, following an influx of Chinese immigrants after the Chinese Civil War, the Police Married Quarters was built in 1951 to provide accommodation for married rank and file officers to enhance the morale of junior police officers. Current and ex-Chief Executives CY Leung and Donald Tsang both lived there at one point.

PMQ Hong Kong

One of the units was refurbished to the original living space, and the video of past PMQ residents reminiscing about living there was intriguing. It was full of warmth, and you could tell they really enjoyed living there as a big community.

PMQ Hong Kong

You can view the foundations of the old Victoria College via an underground tunnel in the central courtyard.

PMQ Hong Kong

Taking a break from retail therapy to admire the architecture of the building

PMQ Hong Kong

Ok, now back to shopping!

PMQ Hong Kong

OMG I love these!

PMQ Hong Kong

Some fine-looking leathercraft

PMQ Hong Kong

Open Quote.

PMQ Hong Kong

Be sure to check out Chocolate Rain, a popular local brand featuring cute, whimsical characters on the ground floor

PMQ Hong Kong

Cuteness overload

PMQ Hong Kong

In love with these porcelain-inspired necklaces

PMQ Hong Kong

Whether for fashion, food or art, do drop by Hong Kong’s latest address for creativity during your next visit.

PMQ
35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong Island
Website: www.pmq.org.hk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PMQHK
Opening Hours: 1:00PM to 8:00PM

Getting there:
1) MTR Sheung Wan Station Exit E2. Walk through the Grand Millennium Plaza to reach Bonham Strand. Cross the road and turn left onto Wellington Street and walk for around two minutes. Turn onto Aberdeen Street and walk for around three minutes to reach PMQ.

2) MTR Central Station Exit C. Walk along Dex Voeux Road to the Hang Seng Bank Headquarters, which is linked to the Central–Mid-Levels Escalator. Take the escalator to Staunton Street and turn right. Walk for about three minutes to reach PMQ. The whole walk takes about 15 minutes.


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Hong Kong – Star Café 星座冰室: Eat a bowl of culture

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Eat a bowl of Hong Kong…in tomato broth
As I set out to document Hong Kong’s authentic eats, I came across this bowl of broth made with fresh tomatoes and eggs. It wasn’t easy to find at all, and I found the place only when my Hong Kong friend brought me there.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Located in the same nondescript building as another famous eat Sun Kee Cheese Noodles, Star Cafe is even more hidden as it is located underground, known only to the locals.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Look out for Dadol Hotel’s sign and turn right into the flight of downward staircase. I hope the hotel never closes down, else I will have to find a new sign marker LOL

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Go right down the flight of stairs with the “Moon Spring Foot Massage” sign above. You will see 星座冰室, the Chinese name for Star Cafe.

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Welcome to a piece of Hong Kong’s local culture :)
Started in 1966, Star Cafe is part of a unique Hong Kong dining culture called bing sutt (冰室) popularized around the 1950s as a result of the convergence of cultures. After the 2nd World War, Western food became increasingly popular in Hong Kong with the British colonization. However, such food remained beyond the financial reach of many people. Local diners started offering dishes with Western influences at affordable prices (this must be one of the earliest versions of fusion food).

Star Cafe 星座冰室

This type of fusion cuisine or “soy sauce Western 豉油西餐” (adding of Chinese ingredients into Western dishes) started the trend for cha chan teng 茶餐厅 and bing sutt 冰室 (smaller menu than 茶餐厅), serving localized versions of Western comfort food as well as iced drinks, coffee, and tea. Such places are no-frills, low-priced and operate round-the-clock. The perennial air of boisterousness is characteristic in such places.

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Star Cafe is so well-known for its tomato noodles that a large portion of their menu is dedicated to it
It is one of the few places which use fresh tomatoes to make their special broth while most others use Campbell soup.You have a choice of macaroni, instant noodles, vermicelli or spaghetti, as well as to add ingredients such as beef/chicken, luncheon meat, vegetables, etc.

Star Cafe 星座冰室

At HK28 (USD3.60) a bowl, it is an affordable eat for anyone

Star Cafe 星座冰室

I had my fave Nissin instant noodles with pork chop and luncheon meat
Funny how the humble instant noodles tastes so good in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - Star Cafe

Star Cafe 星座冰室

The spaghetti version – eaten with chopsticks
Don’t let the gooey appearance of the broth put you off – tuck in and slurp it all up! The taste is light without a presence of sourness from the tomatoes.

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Hong Kong-style milk tea or Si mutt lai cha 絲襪奶茶 (served hot/cold)
This iconic drink made from a mixture of strong black tea and a lot of evaporated/condensed milk and sugar (added by the customer), is also called ‘silk stocking tea’ after the shape of the sackcloth bag used to filter the tea leaves. The smoothness of its taste, or how creamy and full-bodied it is (香滑), distinguishes a good cup of tea.This beverage is very much ingrained in Hong Kong’s culture – Hong Kongers consume a total of 900 million cups a year, and rank it No. 4 of representative Hong Kong cuisine (Top Eat 100, Feb 2012). 

Star Cafe 星座冰室

Bon appetite! :)

Star Café 星座冰室
Shop No. 36, Champagne Court, 16-20 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
尖沙咀金巴利道16-20號香檳大廈地庫36號舖
Tel: +852 2724 4408
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00AM – 9:30PM
Nearest Train Station: Tsim Sha Tsui station (red line) Exit B1 or B2 (5 mins walk)


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Hong Kong – Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳: Irresistible Cheesy Goodness

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳It’s such a simple dish of instant noodles, grilled pork neck and cheese sauce, but it remained on my mind after I tasted it for the first time. Now it’s the first thing I scoot to once I land in Hong Kong. Call it comfort food :)

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Nestled deep in Champagne Court, neighbourhood cha chan teng (teahouse) Sun Kee is quite a legend for its signature grilled pork neck with instant noodles dribbled in a specially concocted blend of cheese sauce. Don’t let the building appearance scare you – there’s plenty of good food and 2nd-hand camera shops hidden within.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Go straight to the end of the alley after Dadol Hotel then turn left to find the golden goodness…of cheese noodles

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Voila – Sun Kee!
They have a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui and another in Wan Chai, but I usually go to this one in TST since it’s near my shopping haunts.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

The shop seats only 20 and is always crowded, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to dap toi (share a table). It’s a Hong Kong culture, and sometimes you get friendly locals who will tell you more good places to eat/visit so I am usually happy to share tables.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Sun Kee has won over many fans, including a giant following of local celebrities as seen from the photos plastered all over the shop. Try spotting your favourite HK star when you are there *wink*

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Ordering is a no-brainer for the first time – definitely the cheese noodles with grilled pork neck (top left)!

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Other items on the menu. I am always intrigued with HK beverages such as boiled Coke, Coke/Seven-Up with lemon and watercress with honey. And I can never understand how they can make a teahouse culture out of instant noodles, luncheon meat and just buttered bread.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

My perennial HK beverage – the silky smooth yuan yang (mix of coffee, tea – and me!)

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

Cheese noodles with egg and sausage
Nothing beats the fragrant grilled pork neck, but why not try something different if you are with a few friends.

Sun Kee Cheese Noodles 新記餐廳

The owner definitely loves his dogs, and I always check this ‘wall of fame’ behind the cashier for new photos of the pooches. Try Sun Kee the next time you visit Hong Kong! :)

Sun Kee 新記餐廳
Address:

Tsim Sha Tsui shop: 13-14 Champagne Court, 16-20 Kimberley Road 金巴利道, Tsim Sha Tsui尖沙咀, +852 2722 4555
Wanchai shop: Shop G11-G14, New Century Plaza, 151-163 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai, +852 2574 3988
Nearest Train Station to TST shop: Tsim Sha Tsui station (red line) Exit B1 or B2. Champagne Court just opposite The Mira hotel.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30AM – 11:00PM; Sun 12:00PM – 6:00PM