Food and some stories....

Category: Travel

Tam Kung Festival in Hong Kong

When you think Hong Kong the first thing that comes to mind is tall sky touching skyscrapers, surrounded by miles of sea. A modern city made of glass and steel; and that was the impression I had when I first visited the city back in 2012 for a short work trip. Now that I am staying in Hong Kong for a longer duration it has given me the opportunity to explore the city in a much more leisurely fashion and understand the nuances and the pace of the city much better. So, when I read about the celebration parade for the birthday of Tam Kung, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to learn a little more about the Chinese traditional celebrations. This was a chance to learn about the ancient roots of the modern world city. I present to you all the Tam Kung festival in Hong Kong.

The birthday of Tam Kung is one of the four lunar classical traditional festivals in the fourth lunar month that celebrate Hong Kong’s living culture. It’s usually celebrated in the month of April and May; this year it was celebrated on the 3rd of May. The other notable traditional festivals celebrated in Hong Kong during this time are the Tin Hau festival, Lord Buddha’s birthday and the Cheung Chau Bun festival.

Tam Kung is one of the few Chinese deities only known to Hong Kong and Macau, he is considered the patron saint of fishermen. He was a native of the Guangdong province during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368); according to popular legend, he was a young boy when he already had the powers to contain the winds and the storms making him popular among the fishermen.

Every year there is a big street festival to celebrate his birthday, fishermen and worshippers from all over Hong Kong gather in Shau Kei Wan where lion and dragon dance teams parade through the main street. Shau Kei Wan has been used by fishermen since the 18th century to moor their boats and the temple dates to the 1900’s and is the oldest temple dedicated to the deity of Tam Kung in Hong Kong.

Shau Kei Wan

Shau Kei Wan

Shau Kei Wan meaning “rice basket bay” is a settlement dating back centuries before the British occupied the island in 1841. And perhaps that is why it is so amazing to see the cultural traditions and festivals of the local Chinese people still practiced with so much gusto and fanfare. It was in 2006 that the Hong Kong tourism board started promoting this festival with much fanfare to revive the old Chinese traditional practices.

We left Wan Chai around 9.30 and reached Shau Kei Wan in about 20 minutes. The festivities had already begun, and there were people lined on both sides of the street to watch the parade. Young and old were jostling for space, with the young ones often on the shoulders of their parents.

Tam Kung festival in Hong Kong

Dragon Dance

Tam Kung festival in Hong Kong

Close encounters of the dragon kind

Tam kung festival in Hong Kong

From what I could gather local groups or clubs put up colourful dragon and lion dances or dress up as Chinese opera characters or gods along with martial arts presentations. There were quite a few old lady groups who also walked by in their colourful dresses, dancing their way through the streets. And notable was a young toddler dressed up as a chinese opera character with his mother pushing his stroller behind, just in case he got tired. Lot of the performers underneath the dragons were little kids.

Dragon kids!

Dragon kids!

Tam Kung Festival in Hong Kong

Pretty ladies!

Parade Scenes-1

Parade Scenes-1

Parade scenes 2

Parade scenes 2

I am originally from Kolkata where there is still a small Chinese immigrant community settled and a place we call China town. Growing up I have seen bits of dragon and lion dances during the Chinese New Year celebrations, but nothing so elaborate and extensive. The participation of people of all ages really brings out the importance of family and togetherness in the Chinese community. The few hours that I spent taking pictures and watching the parade was truly one of my most memorable experiences in Hong Kong.

Colorful Dragons at the Tam Kung festival

Colorful Dragons

As a tourist, I have travelled many countries and visited many monuments and scenic places. But the chance to live a culture, experience it, is truly immersing and delightful. I understood more of Chinese culture in those couple of hours than the entire month I have already spent in Hong Kong. I hope my readers through my pictures get a glimpse of what I could experience. Kudos to the Hong Kong Tourism board for  promoting  this festival, and hope to catch many more in the future.

Spice up your life|bringing turkey home

Spice Market|Grand Bazaar; Turkey

Traveling is a passion and the thing that I most look forward to when I travel is too roam the local markets and discover the hidden treasures. Buy souvenirs for friends and bring back memories from the travels which last beyond the journey. So as a habit before I travel I definitely scour the internet to understand which are the definite buys from the country I plan to visit.

While I was doing research for the trip before turkey, I discovered that the country is well known for its spices and particularly for a kind of red pepper unique to the country. Red pepper which is flaky in texture; intense red or orange in color and is also known as pul biber. It’s a pepper which without burning your palate gives a unique color and flavor to the food. It has a unique aroma, with a touch of saltiness (as salt is used while drying) and raisin like flavor. It can be used in place of red pepper or paprika.


So the mandatory trip to Grand bazaar was made (in my case multiple times), made easier by the fact that we were living right next to it. Nothing you might have read or heard about it really prepares you for the sight that this bazaar is! Even if you are a person who generally dislikes crowded places, which I must confess I am, cannot help but enjoy the spirit of this centuries old bazaar. I was mesmerized, hooked and enjoyed myself thoroughly bargaining with the shopkeepers.

So coming back to home I was desperately looking for ways to incorporate this exotic spice that I had brought back. I just didn’t want to substitute it into any other recipe for red pepper. Easier choice would have been to try and make a kebab of sort like the locals, but I am recently trying to eat healthy and was looking for such an option.

I finally found the Moroccan carrot & beet grated salad from ( Moroccan Grated Carrot and Beet Salad )as the perfect platform to try out this exotic spice. I just simply substituted the paprika in the recipe with the pul biber. I have never had a more flavorful salad and also a very tasty way to incorporate beets into my diet. Please find the recipe below:


Moroccan grated carrot & beet Salad


  1. Two cups carrots(grated)
  2. 1 cup beet(grated)
  3. ½ cup raisins
  4. ½ teaspoon pul biber(or paprika)
  5. ¼ tsp ground cumin
  6. ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Pinch of cayenne
  9. 2tbsps lemon juice
  10. 2tsps honey
  11. 2 tbsps mint leaves (optional)


Wash the grated beets gently under water to remove the excess color. Remove the excess water and mix with the carrots & raisins. In a small bowl mix together the balance ingredients to prepare your dressing and mix gently with the carrot & beet mixture. Rest the mixture for an hour to let the dressing blend in well. Blend in the mint leaves last before serving, however I choose to skip it, it’s up to you to use it or not. Serve chilled.


Moroccon Carrot & beet grated Salad


Eiffel Tower in the night

Eiffel Tower in the night

Throwback to last year and we were in Paris. It was our first night in the city and all we could think of is rushing to see the Eiffel tower. And here it is in all its magnificent glory, awe inspiring and beautiful. Since the time I was a child, I wanted to go to Paris., and you didnt disappoint. Paris you are beautiful and some more. The cafes, the people, the food, the museums, everything was magnificent. But the best were the people, inspite of the language barrier not once did we feel unwelcome, there was always a smile to welcome and make up for the language barrier.

But this post is just dedicated to the magnificent Eiffel tower, a detailed Paris post will have to wait another day. Eiffel tower the engineering marvel which can be safely called beautiful! 🙂

J’aime Paris

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