The Promenade at Kwun Tong/Ngau Tau Kok by the industrial buildings is one public space that’s popular among the Generation Y, due to its new design unlike any other promenades. It’s near the Kwun Tong Pier and Bus Terminal that used to be one transportation hub in the district when factories were still functioning before the 80s. Now most transports have been effectively replaced by the MTR, the pier and bus terminal have so few people using them. I even question the purpose of existence as of this moment. I’ve been to the promenade a few times approached from the Kwun Tong direction. This time I got a chance to approach from the other end at Ngau Tau Kok after a wedding of my former classmate that we still meet once/twice a year. I felt honored to be around with this group of classmates, not a huge group but at least we still have a spot for each other on the important days. How about the occasional group chat nonsense. Oh yea, that’s us. Maybe it’s the silliness that’s keeping us together still. Everyone has their own path to take. Shortly after the wedding banquet in mid-afternoon, I must carry on my own path. I wanted to explore Ngau Tau Kok thanks to the taxi ride. If I hadn’t seen the recreation area at the Promenade, I wouldn’t make this walk. It was the hottest day of the summer until today. With all the expensive operating, labor costs that were unfavor to any cost efficient industrial activities, factories have all moved across the borders to the north, in China. Almost all the used-to-be factories got converted into business suites, warehouses. The hippie solution can be fashion outlets, furniture showrooms, restaurants/cafés, galleries, artist workshops, band rooms, beer/wine breweries, greenhouse farms, fish farms and even playgrounds such as indoor soccer field, haunted house. The older generation would open buddhist/taoist temples which my mom visits. In other words, these old industrial buildings are the new powerhouse for opportunities. The advantage of low rent, high ceiling, roomy, rectangular interior have met almost all the criteria for all business owners. The entire Kwun Tong District which includes Kwun Tong, Ngau Tau Kok and Kowloon Bay were full of industrial buildings by the shore. My dad used to bring me to his participated side business at a building like these. One way to see it and that’s welcoming is, we get to see how creatively we utilize old structure as some of our practical work and play space without tearing and demolishing. All it requires is an approved change of the regulation for the property’s use. It’s an effortless idea to quickly ease up and re-use many of the empty vertical spaces in the city. I’d like to see a more organized way to pack the similar businesses into a street block. Colonize certain type similar businesses on a location. Cooperations between the buildings on the block, bring them together. Build a physical pedestrian bridge between the buildings, re-model the entrances/alleys to a friendlier manner. How about re-naming the entire block to something more interesting? Re-brand the district with a theme. Our government could have done an art village by using the industrial buildings without the indefinitely wait for Hong Kong Express Rail Link Station to be finished, before anything can be done for the West Kowloon Cultural Art District. We pay so much attention to these two projects because there aren’t any other new major developments in sight that the public could use, really not the delay. Who cares about the delay when they’re other fun new locations evolving.
It was my misfortune that my 2nd roll from my LCA turned out blank after the unexpected failure from the camera strap. I learned from this fatal mistake and moved on. I had gone back to the same market that surprised me of how busy it could get in the late afternoon. This is where most (older) people get their fresh produce, you may call it the wet market; though there’s also the dry section. They think they get better deals from this type of market. The younger couples would either buy their ingredients from the medium/upscale supermarket instead. I suspect due to the cleanliness and also the origins – anywhere but China. Or else the couple would just eat out to save time and effort.
I got used to this type of fishy, bloody, wet environment since I was a kid. I used to go along to the fresh market back then to just find something to do with the domestic helper (mom & dad both work during the day). It was part of my memory to hang out at the market, I did not even remember how old I was.
Nearly all districts in Hong Kong has at least a few of these wet markets all packed in a building which you would not know there’s one unless you enter one. It’s off the grid and I found myself entered a whole new world of the local community. You may still find the old fashion open markets as stalls and ground level shops in a few gathering location. But those will eventually go away due to the rents and re-development. The live chicken business may go away too one day, who knows (because of the Bird Flu). You’ll see many quirky stuff in these type of markets. Fish cut off still seem pretty much alive, toads hopping in cage, cattles’ internal organs hanging on hooks…alright just those things you thought only be possible in halloween or movies.
I still found myself enjoying this part of life. Seeing how differently people live in our city. And I get to taste what I love too, cold soya milk and hot rolls. I found a place selling just baked roll/bun/bread whatever you want to call it for just HKD$1. The size of a fist. You can get a bag full with just 10 bucks.
In early September, I was helping at the Restaurant & Bar Trade Exhibition for the company I worked for. There’s so much to work for and so little to see as a staff, no surprise. Yet, from my trip to the restroom I saw something that made my eyes sparkled on the first day. That is the culinary competition for the Young Talent Trophy. The host Disciples Escoffier had a dedicated area with stage, open kitchens, judges’ panel and seating area. The first time came to my mind was the Japanese culinary challenge broadcasted on TV – the Iron Chef. I just love that show and had gone through two periods of my life, childhood and college. It brings me back so deep I just indulged into the entire environment. Chefs prepared food without the sous, all done within an hour with selected classic French dishes/ingredients. These are professionals and likely without any fame just yet in their early career. They were incredibly focused. Then there’s the catch.
There’s the female chef representing South Korea in one corner. In Asia, Korean is the trend setter. I’m no exception but to check out what she’s up to. Honestly, if that was just a young chef from Hong Kong, I might not stop and look at all. It was my first time seeing live cooking by a female chef. She’s in her own world making food, reminds me of the athletes. I was there for just a minute and i got that impression already on the first day.
The Exhibition lasts for 3 days and I was there all the way. I did not even remember what I’d done on the second day, it’s just crowded and nothing extraordinary. The third day, just when I was done for the day; I stood in as a spectator. It’s all due to the Macao representative. He’s enthusiastic looking and crunching through the last few minutes for the course. That’s the time I decided to capture a few of those moments to remember. There were some other chef candidates from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and the mentioned Macao and South Korea. They all enjoyed cooking a lot, and had shown professionalism.
The last day I squeezed out a little of my lunch break for these incredible cooking, panel tasting action. I just could not witness the later trophy presentation ceremony for the winners and runner-ups. All I heard was the South Korean lady won, her name is Kim Eunbi. Not bad, not bad at all. I’m so happy at the same time jealous that they’ve picked their profession so early on. Everyone has their own path to take, right?