Thursday, 17 September 2015

Off The Beaten Track In Hong Kong

The Mad Rush


My visits to Hong Kong were always a whirlwind rush against time and traffic to get to workshops and meetings, and hurried dinners or drink sessions with friends in Hong Kong.  The final hours of my trip would also see me zipping from trams to malls, to train stations, and across the island to more malls because I had grudgingly agreed to purchase several tins of a popular brand of cookies that could only be found in Hong Kong, wait for a roast goose from a famous restaurant to be cooked, packed and ready to sit with my clean and nice-smelling clothes in my luggage or snap up a bunch of cheap cosmetics from a Hong Kong-based cosmetic chain store.


I did like the hurried meals though.  We had a hurried lunch at a traditional dim sum restaurant that served its dim sum in trolleys that whizzed past our table at the speed of a space shuttle. They were pushed by harried waitresses who shouted at the top of their voices to ask if we wanted them to throw a basket of barbecued pork buns at our table in a bid to practice their Ultimate Frisbee skills.


I felt that I have never had enough time to see Hong Kong for the gem it truly was, apart from the mornings when I would wake up to a fantastic view from my hotel window which overlooked the Victoria Park.  I loved watching various group of old folks “doing their thing” amidst greenery.  Apart from the usual groups that did Tai-Chi and Qi-Gong, there was a group that did a fan dance, and another group that did a kungfu display while brandishing swords.  Then there were groups that focused on activities that had questionable efficacies.  One group walked backwards, another kept flapping their hands and then there were the “moon-walkers” who walked in slow motion rather than walked at a slow pace. Fascinating!


Squeezing In Me Time


Inspired by old folks energetically performing their daily exercises, this old lady here thought to squeeze in some time for my own workout too.  So I booked a session with Bresson Brel, Head Coach of Boxing at Jab MMA. Bresson who was a World Champion boxer with 14 years of experience. 8 of those years were spent as a professional boxer. He came highly recommended as his specialty was in specific boxing conditioning drills.  That sounded safe enough for me to know that I would not be losing a tooth when I trained with him.


Bresson had possibly communicated telepathically with my boxing coach in Singapore.  After warming up with 30 push-ups which made me feel rather pumped, he very politely told me to repeat another set of 30 push-ups because “Let’s not count those because they weren’t low enough shall we?” He was a great coach and I had a great workout.  I wished I had more time in Hong Kong to train more regularly with him.

Even David got his act together and booked a training session with Professor Rodrigo Caporal who held a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was well-decorated to the hilt with world championship titles. David learnt a lot from that training session and it was hilarious when he admitted that his "sit-on-him-and-hope-for-the-best" technique did not work.

Off The Beaten Track


I was glad that I included David in this recent trip though, or I would never have found that piece of tranquility beyond the urban parks in Hong Kong.


We spent a day at the sleepy fishing village of Tai-O on Lantau Island where time almost stood still.  The journey to Tai-O itself was an experience.  It was almost a “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” type of experience.  We took the tram to catch the ferry to Mui Wo, then hopped onto the number 1 bus to Tai-O which was quite an interesting ride if one was ever in an adventurous mood. As the bus drove through the hills, it rolled around the bends almost always nearly missing an on-coming bus.  It trimmed the trees at breakneck speed a few times, and we saw our lives flashed past our eyes throughout the whole journey.  When we arrived at Tai-O, we felt like we were in a time-warp. It certainly was not the Hong Kong I knew.  The pace felt much slower, the air was cleaner, and the shops, homes, schools, and almost every aspect of the little village seemed to belong to a different dimension in time.  


Everyone who lived in Tai-O was in the fishing industry, operated a seafood restaurant or ran a shop that specialized in dried seafood.  It was fascinating to see families living in stilt houses that lined a river bank, busy with their daily activity of salting fish, drying them in the sun, and mending fishing nets.


Some of the houses looked like aluminum containers and we wondered how families living in those could withstand the sweltering heat.


We stopped for lunch at the Tai-O Heritage Hotel which was a respite from the heat.  The charm of the hotel reminded me of the E&O Hotel in Penang or the Raffles Hotel in Singapore minus the glitz. The view from the hotel was stunning and I wished that we had booked a room for the night there. Maybe next time.


From Tai-O, a taxi took us to yet another sleepy village called Ngongping.  Many Buddhist pilgrims visited the Po Lin Monastery at Ngongping and one could not claim to have visited Ngongping without negotiating the challenging stairs up to the Big Buddha. However once we arrived at the top of the stairs, we were rewarded by a stunning view of the monastery, the mountains and the sea surrounding us.  It was so peaceful..almost a slice of heaven.


I was glad that we went beyond the malls and cafes in Hong Kong, and chose to get off the beaten track during this trip.  I finally saw Hong Kong for the gem it truly was.

Photo credit: Most pictures from this post were photographed by David



About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.