SursWorld

Food and some stories....

Tag: Hong Kong

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.

Hong Kong food adventures- Dan Tai Fung, Causeway Bay

Who can resist good food, well I certainly can’t. And Hong Kong is a foodie paradise, be it street food, Michelin star restaurants or five star hotels. Food is everywhere and it tempts and entices and you don’t mind spending your last dollar for the enticing array of food available.  I have been eating my way through Hong Kong and  have not been disappointed in any single place, be it a hole in the wall or a fancy Michelin starred restaurant. As I navigate this city I will be sharing with you all a few of my favourite places, in no order and if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, do let me know how the experience was for you. So here goes the first of my Hong Kong food adventures.

My first day in Hong Kong and I happened to be near Dan Tai Fung a Taiwanese restaurant (the Yee Wo Branch) specialising in xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings). The restaurant chain is legendary and in 1993 was voted one of the top ten restaurants in the world by the New York times. In 2009, its first Hong Kong Branch at Tsim Sha Tsui was awarded one Michelin star and in 2010 the Yee Wo branch was also accorded the same honour.

So even though we were not very hungry, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and we decided to check out the place. Although the Easter holidays were going on and the place was packed with weekend crowd; their electronic queuing system and viewing the menu and filling the order form before you are shown to your table helps in making the process smoother.  As a result of which the service was  fast and efficient; the waiting period was hardly a pinch.

Since we were not hungry we ordered three dishes, the prawn xiaolongbao, the sautéed water spinach with garlic and the vermicelli soup with fried bean curd and pork rolls.

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Pork Xiaolongbao

Pork Xiaolongbao

I found the food to be very good with generous portion size and without pinching the pocket too much. A meal for two will cost you HKD 100$-200$ without drinks.A definite visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

 

Current pit stop-Hong Kong

A long hiatus from the blog, and I had almost given up on it. And then suddenly out of the blue the number of readers on the blog suddenly started jumping and that was just the kind of motivation I needed. So, the story of my life right now is that the husband is temporarily stationed in Hong Kong for a work project; and I have joined him. It’s been only five days that I am here in Hong Kong, and obviously, there is lots to do and lots to discover.

We are staying here in an executive apartment and in terms of cooking I have very limited means which means I have no blender, no oven and literally a one burner induction stove. So, have stuck to just cooking the odd breakfast and pan fried food. Also, I must add I have just one pan and one pot that have been provided to us by the apartment. Didn’t make sense for us to set up an entire kitchen for a month or two. Which is a pity cause the variety of produce is sensational and  my hands itch every time I visit the local markets. Will, keep you all updated on my limited culinary adventures in my mini kitchen.

But as always there is a silver lining always, Hong Kong happens to be the city blessed with 58 Michelin star restaurants and I promise to share reviews of quite a few with you all. I am not sure I am really qualified to do reviews of restaurants, so let me put it this way, it will be more like sharing of my culinary experiences. So, stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the coming ride.

Till then ciao from Hong Kong.

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