Thursday, September 22, 2011

HK Family

A visit to Hong Kong would not be complete without a get-together with my extended family - a grandaunt, uncles, aunts and cousins from my father's side of the family. Whilst some of us keep in regular touch via Facebook, it is always more meaningful when we meet in person.

We had dinner in the vicinity of Kowloon Bay when I was visiting last month. I forget the name of the restaurant, although I've been twice, but the food is sumptuous. Good food and even better company, that's a great combination.

My relatives in Hong Kong are generous, to the extent that my sister and I had an extra box to check-in; 17kgs worth of mooncakes, Chinese sausages, XO sauce and tidbits from Ichi-Ban. I am embarrassed to say I only brought them pre-packed ingredients for Chicken Rendang from Raju's. Still, it's a novelty considering they enjoyed the roti, curries and condiments at Raju's the last time they were in town. I am going to have to pack more come January next year.

Photo shot in a restaurant in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


OK, patience is not one of my virtues. Nevertheless, I got up early, headed to Mongkok via Yau Ma Tei MTR, and was first in line at Tim Ho Wan at 8.40am. Yes, I, together with my sister Suk Harn and cousins Honn Ken, Ming Ken and Ai Peng, were first in the queue, which meant that we would be in the first seating when business commenced at 10am. By 9am, the line was thirty deep, the approximate number of covers available in the restaurant.

I first read of Tim Ho Wan, a one Michelin-star restaurant in a travel mag, probably either Travel & Leisure South East Asia or Destinasian and since then had made up my mind to brave the crowds. This aspiration did waver slightly as I had contemplated heading to Tim Ho Wan's branch outlet in Shum Sui Po, apparently larger, with more seating and much shorter waiting time. Suffice to say I was vetoed by my cousins, and so to the original we trekked. The verdict? The wait was well worth it. A tiny, cosy restaurant, simple seating, all attention on the dim sum. The five of us shared sixteen plates of gastronomic creations, some familiar, others a new experience. An hour and twenty minutes' wait, an hour of great dim sum at an affordable price. What's there not to love?

My cousins and friends in Hong Kong would you believe, have never been to Tim Ho Wan. They know of it but have never tried the dim sum, largely due to the long lines. In fact, I have a friend who stays on the same street. She tells me that the daily lines are a deterrent. I suppose this is where the adage 'the early bird catches the worm' rings true. Nothing good comes easy I guess. I am happy to have made the effort.

Photo of baked Char Siew Pau, crusty on the top, flaky in the middle, moist in the centre.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I seldom shop when home. Maybe it's because I am so busy all the time. But come holiday, especially if I am visiting a destination that is big in shopping, I do pretty well. Places that I've been to this year that fall into this category would be Seoul, Bangkok and most recently Hong Kong. There's a retail vibe in each of these cities and one can easily get into the groove of hitting the shops.

One principle that I always adhere to when on vacation is to enjoy. Sure, I have a budget which I try to stick to when it comes to shopping, but by and large, I buy whatever that catches my fancy, provided it doesn't burn too big a hole in my pocket. For me, retail therapy is at its best when on holiday.

This time next week, I'll be in Nepal. Ain't sure if there'll be much shopping available but am sure as hell going to try!

Photo shot in Hong Kong.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bike Ride

My Malaysian cousins and I were treated to a bike ride around the rural countryside in our home village of Lamtang during our recent visit. Unlike our Chinese cousins, we rarely ever get on bikes here, so, it was a bit of a thrill for us pillion riders.

When in rural China, do as the rural Chinese do. No helmets! As we wound our way through hilly roads, one could not help but marvel at the beautiful landscapes, picturesque views that no camera can capture in its entirety.

After an hour's ride, a massage awaited. Certainly a good way to spend an afternoon.

Our small convoy in Lamtang, China.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Here is a photo of the old family home of some of my relatives in Lamtang, Huizhou, China. They of course now live in slightly more modern dwellings, a contemporary-styled 3-storey building built right next to these structures of yesteryears. But up to a few years ago, these age-old cottages were home.

When touring these cottages, I feel a deeper appreciation for the lifestyle we have in Malaysia. The simple comforts we so often take for granted are a luxury to many rural folk. It is therefore comforting to see that some of these modern conveniences are now accessible to my cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, in our little Chinese village.

As a touristic visitor, we always look out for an authentic experience. I encountered a few during my recent trip to Lamtang. And these experiences certainly offer a different perspective of life, urging us to truly appreciate the good things that we enjoy in our lives.

Photo shot in Lamtang, China.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family Ties

It is perhaps apt that my family's trip back to our village in Lamtang, Huizhou, China coincided with the impending Hari Raya holidays. Such celebrations are times when family ties come to the fore.

I think it is fair to say that nowhere else in the world are extended family relationships more evident than in Asia. Whilst we have embraced some influences from the West, our Asian upbringing has somehow ingrained in us the value of familial kinship.

Some say that distance makes the heart fonder. I would say that this is true. Although I keep in touch with my mainland Chinese cousins every now and then through sms-es and phone calls, there is still much joy and enthusiasm when we meet in person, be it during their visits to Malaysia or our recent trip back to the village. We have fun, enjoy each other's company and often remind ourselves how lucky we are to have such bonds, family bonds.

Photo shot in the family home in Lamtang, China.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Balik Kampung

I've never experienced 'balik kampung', even during Chinese New Year, as most of my extended family live in Petaling Jaya where I live. Well, I am happy to say that I have finally experienced the anticipation and rush when eighteen of us, seven from my generation, headed back to Lamtang in Huizhou, China, last weekend.

My mother's side of the family in Malaysia still keeps in touch with many relatives in the village, with each clan making reciprocal visits over the past few years. I too am friendly with my cousins in China, despite my not being able to read nor write in Chinese. Fortunately, those from my generation speak Cantonese and I am able to converse in my limited Hakka to the older relations.

One thing I know for sure is that the extended family in Lamtang are extremely warm and affectionate. They go out of their way to make us comfortable. And we can sense their pride when we make the trek 'home' so to speak. When we arrived by chartered bus from Shenzhen on Saturday, they welcomed us with a 50-metre firecracker display which lasted a whopping eight and a half minutes. It was certainly a exciting way to start off the festivites of our visit!

Firecrackers at the family home in Lamtang village in Huizhou, China.