Celebrating Chinese New Year on Lantau
Coming up: Lantau events over Chinese New Year
Jan 18: Silvermine Bay School Open Day. 1F Silver Centre Building, 10 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Rd. 11am-2pm. Details: email@example.com
Jan 18: Eddie Chu, local Legco member and founder of the Land Justice League, will be outside McDonald’s, Mui Wo, 10:30am-12:30pm. He will hand out voting registration forms, write Fai Chun and meet local residents. Waste-Free Mui Wo will also be there for freecycling.
Jan 18: New Year Quest. New Year’s celebration at Little Field Restaurant (小隱於野) with house specials, chill music, board games and more. 3pm till late, 50 Cheung Sha Lower Village. Tickets $280-$350. Bookings and details here.
Jan 19: CNY Market at Cheung Sha Beach. Featuring food, drink and diverse local stalls. 11am: Dumplings Workshop. 1pm: Fai Chun Workshop. Little Field Restaurant (小隱於野), 50 Cheung Sha Lower Village. Click here for more details or to book a stall.
Jan 19: Dinner Theatre: Jam Every Other Day. Starring local actress Erika Marais. 6pm The Stoep at Hightide, Mui Wo. HK$300. Bookings/information: http://www.lymarialberts.com
Jan 26: Garden Genies. Permaculture workshop at Ark Eden. Cost: $750. 9:40am-5:30pm. Meet at Mui Wo ferry pier. Bookings/details: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan 27: A Walk to Remember II. Hike from Mui Wo to Pui O. With swimming, soccer & music at Pui O Beach. Starts at 10am from Mui Wo. Donation $100. Organised by One Love Community. Bookings/information here.
Ding Ding Gallery opens in Mui Wo
Mui Wo now has a small exhibition space – Ding Ding Art Gallery at Caffe Paradiso.
Tom Midgley, owner of the popular coffee shop, says it is open to anyone in the community who wants a space to show paintings, photos or similar items.
Anyone who wants to use the gallery can contact Tom at his cafe.
The small gallery in Caffee Paradiso’s stairwell is named after Tom’s late but much-loved dog – which helps explain the canine theme in many of the current paintings, which have been created by artists and members of the local community.
Di Jerk Shed goes under after just nine months
Caribbean bar and restaurant Di Jerk Shed has shut its doors, the latest hospitality business to go under at Lower Cheung Sha Beach.
The company announced in a Facebook post on March 14 that it was closing immediately, attributing the closure to “high operating cost[s], natural disasters and [the] inability to adequately staff to provide our Caribbean experience.”
The bar, owned by local-based pilots Larry la Guerre and Phil St Hill, offered Lantau’s – and Hong Kong’s – only Caribbean-style restaurant, with Jamaican jerk, doubles, rum julep punch and reggae.
But like a number of bars that set up before them at the scenic beachside, it was unable to survive in a difficult-to-reach location that is only able to attract customers for half the year.
As the owners hinted in their final message, the rent is also prohibitive – tenants pay HK$35,000 and more for spots along the beach.
Di Jerk Shed’s exit leaves one less option for residents and visitors this summer.
The final message in full:
It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I announce that we have ceased operations with immediate effect. I want to thank all of you who have visited us during our operations and do apologise if we have caused any inconvenience. We were unable to overcome our high operating cost, natural disasters and inability to adequately staff to provide our caribbean experience.
Have a wonderful summer.
The cross-dressing banjo-playing Cantonese era is over
Cecilie Gamst Berg has packed away her wok, hung up her fake breasts and booked a flight for her dogs.
After 27 years, the greatest Norwegian cross-dressing banjo-playing Cantonese teacher of our time is saying her goodbyes.
With her departure, Hong Kong culture loses an unlikely champion and Lantau an outsized local personality.
Cecilie has lived on Lantau since landing here in late 1989 after some months in China and Korea.
She has since made her outsized mark as local cultural guide and teacher, Sichuanese cook and banjo-playing star of manic cross-dressing videos.
“In those days, anybody could come to Hong Kong and get a job. No questions asked, cash in hand,” she says of her early days.
There were plenty of gweilo jobs in English teaching, bars and on filmsets, she says, adding a few pointed remarks about ‘begpackers’.
Cecilie spent several weeks in a cramped unit with seven others in Chungking Mansions before fleeing to Mui Wo.
“I had to take all my possessions into the shower. I was tired of them being wet all the time,” she said.
Her first home was in Pak Ngan Heung, which she shared with two others. She later lived in Tai Tei Tong for ten years before moving to Pui O 15 years ago.
For many years she was an English teacher on Hong Kong Island, schlepping the 75-minute daily ferry commute via Peng Chau.
Her biggest group of students was Japanese housewives. “When the bubble burst in Japan most of them left.”
In the meantime Cecilie, who already spoke and read Mandarin, had taught herself the local language.
She never studied it formally, but picked it up “just talking to people” – people like her Chinese poker partners on the long ferry commute.
Friends began pestering her to teach Cantonese, and that is what she has been doing, in her own unique style, for the last two decades.
Under the indelibly-named Happy Jellyfish People’s Democratic Language Bureau (slogan: ‘Learn Cantonese the natural way – from a Norwegian’) she went way beyond the classroom.
She took students to bars and wet markets and on Shenzhen shopping trips, forcing them to apply their Cantonese in realistic situations.
She also created a body of memorable YouTube videos, featuring her moustachioed alter ego, strap-on breasts and banjo, and an RTHK show and podcast called Naked Cantonese.
It has made her a defender of Cantonese language and culture at a time when they are under constant attack.
“I really like Cantonese – it is so funny. Mandarin is now a communist language for me, but Cantonese is a funny language, a beer and joke language,” she said in an interview last year with Apple Daily.
People often approach her in public or write to her or to express support – although one of her vexations is that few of them do so in Chinese. “They know I can speak and write it but there’s just NO way I can understand and read it!”
A bigger vexation, and the chief factor in her departure, is the “uglification” of the city under its Beijing landlords.
“The uglification of Hong Kong and destruction of Lantau is the main reason. I can’t live among skyscrapers, concrete and fencing anymore.”
One of her biggest piques is the saturation of the city with metal fences.
“It’s such a metaphor,” she says. “People have to be corralled. I am sure the metreage has doubled in the last five years. That’s my observation as I walk everywhere.”
She points to the 300m-long fence at the side of South Lantau Road down to the Mui Wo roundabout.
“I think we have more accidents here because people get trapped on the road.”
She reflects on how Lantau has changed over the years.
“If you think it is out of the way today, it was way off the track then,” she said.
In those pre-airport, pre-MTR days, “there was no fast ferry, no Tsingma Bridge” – just the plodding ferry.
Mui Wo had three bars – the China Bear was called Fixed Crossing- and “it was much more crazy than now. There were lots of singles in 20s and 30s. Now it’s middle-aged and families.”
Cecilie says Lantau appealed because it was an island – as is her new home, Majorca, where she will be working as a writer and cartoonist for a Norwegian firm.
“It’s my dream job.”
When Cecilie flies out she takes with her not just irreverent Cantonese schtick, and not just a bridge between east and west, but yet another slice of the city’s spirit.
(Video) ‘That’s a big Buddha:’ Stars visit Ngong Ping
In a new episode of his travel series 48 Hours, former IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade leads Jon Hamm (Mad Men) on a whistlestop tour of Hong Kong.
Filming over Christmas, the droll pair taste offal skewers, buy corduroy suits and survive a bruising encounter with a masseur before taking the cable car to Ngong Ping.
Or as Ayoade calls it, En-gong Ping.
“That’s a big Buddha,” they agree as the bronze icon comes into view.
In Ngong Ping, they share a moment with a four-legged resident and discuss the lyrics of Kenny Rogers.
“This is the path to enlightenment,” remarks Hamm as they reach Ngong Ping Village.
“It’s certainly been paved.”
The segment starts at 30:34:
Photo (top): Screenshot
Top ten South Lantau stories for 2017
10. Police probe after two vehicles set alight in four minutes
In a mystifying chain of events, vehicles were set alight in identical circumstances ten kilometres apart at almost exactly the same time. The Triad Squad took over the case, but no arrests have been made.
9. Lantau family mourns death of daughter in Beirut
A Lantau family mourned the death of Rebecca Dykes, a Hong Kong-raised international aid staffer in the UK Beirut Embassy. An Uber driver was charged with Rebecca’s murder. The family set up a charity fund aiming to raise £100,000 (HK$1.045m) to continue Rebecca’s work on humanitarian causes.
8. Village chief falls to death near Lantau Peak
A 69-year-old Sha Tin village chief died after falling 30 metres on the treacherous Kau Nga Ling trail toLantau Peak.
7. Remembering old Mui Wo
When David Kam was born in Luk Tei Tong, Lantau had no roads, no ferry to Central and no telephones. He has seen more change in his lifetime than all of his ancestors combined.
6. Calls to investigate ‘suspicious’ Mui Wo rural land deals
Civic Party leader and barrister Tanya Chan and others called for an investigation into the role of a Mui Wo village leader who was directly involved in six village house transactions and connected to another three in the space of two years.
5. Flights cancelled as Typhoon Hato heads our way
The city ground to a halt for Typhoon Hato, which brought floods and 130kmh winds. Residents organised clean-ups to remove refuse dumped on beaches.
4. Plan to build fence around Yi O ‘infinity pool’
The Water Supplies Department proposed building a fence around the popular ‘infinity pool’ near Yi O to prevent people swimming there.
3. Star power shines on Mui Wo
Superstar Chow Yun Fat chilled in Mui Wo for an afternoon. The Village Bakery’s Kit Lau took the opportunity to get a selfie with the screen legend.
2. Great signs for emerging local star Denquar
The breaks are falling the right way for Denquar, a local singer, songwriter and actor now dividing her time between Hong Kong and London.
1. After 18 years on the beach, the Stoep gets new lease of life
The Stoep, a much-loved landmark, closed its doors at Cheung Sha Beach and re-invented itself at Mui Wo. The beachside restaurant became a destination for a generation of Hong Kongers.
Tai O stars in new Christopher Doyle movie
The old-school charm of Tai O is the backdrop for the latest work from award-winning local film-maker Christopher Doyle.
Australian-born Doyle is famous for his stylish cinematography in Wong Ka-wai movies such as In the Mood for Love and 2046.
His new film, The White Girl (白色女孩), is co-directed with Jenny Suen, his partner on the well-received Hong Kong Trilogy, a docu-movie in part about Occupy.
The plot is best described as arthouse. A young woman (Angela Yuen) in Hong Kong’s last fishing village is allergic to the sun. Because of this, or perhaps some other reason, she goes out at night in pants and vest.
She meets a Japanese man, like her an outsider. As IMDB explains:
This is a love story, but Sakamoto and The White Girl are not lovers. So what happens between them? They look at each other. He becomes her mirror. She becomes his. That’s what love is: through another they see themselves, reflected, as the imperfect mess that human beings often are.
OK, so not quite up to the standard we’ve come to expect from the Lantau cinema standard set by the likes of Andy Lau and Jean Claude Van Damme.
But there is a sub-plot about greedy mainland developers that may resonate with local viewers.
It premieres on December 14, The White Girl Facebook page advises, though it is not listed at any local cinema.
That may be due to the tepid reviews, like this one from Screen Daily:
The Doyle name, and the legacy of his work with Wong Kar-wai, should ensure further festival bookings and perhaps minor VOD interest. However, it is too willfully obtuse and self-conscious to travel theatrically far beyond its domestic market.
It hasn’t been rated on Rotten Tomatoes or mainland movie site Douban and has earned just 4.8 stars (out of 10) on IMDB.com.
An unpropitious start, but enough to win admission to the Lantau Movie Hall of Fame.
UPDATE December 22: scmp.com ranked it 44th out of the 45 Hong Kong movies released in 2017.
Star power shines on Mui Wo
Mui Wo felt the touch of superstar power last weekend as one of Hong Kong’s biggest movie stars, Chow Yun Fat, spent an afternoon here.
Chow, 62, once described by the Los Angeles Times as “the coolest actor in the world,” is one of Hong Kong’s best-loved and most successful actors, famed for his performances in films such as A Better Tomorrow, God of Gambling and Bulletproof Monk.
For Village Bakery proprietor Kit Lau, a true Hollywood-style encounter would have been for her idol to enter her store and fall in love with her cheesecake and cinnamon rolls.
But as it happened she heard was having a drink on the plaza outside China Bear so she rushed over, mobile phone in hand.
Chow and his friends were about to take the ferry, but he was more than willing to do a selfie. Said Kit:
It seems he already knew I was going to take a picture with him. [He was] very welcoming and I introduced our bakery to him and his friends. They were ready to go on boat so they couldn’t visit Village Bakery. He asked if I serve pineapple bun with a cube of salted cold butter, he will pay a visit next time
Lamma-born Chow’s other link to Lantau is his role of Sao Feng, based on legendary Lantau-based pirate Cheung Po-tsai, in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
(VIDEO) Sunny side of the beach
Denquar and crew rework on old favourite on Cheung Sha Beach
Great signs for emerging local star Denquar
The breaks are falling the right way for talented local singer, songwriter and actor Denquar.
She is heading to London to record her first EP and take a starring role in Aladdin at London Richmond Theatre.
It’s part of a steady progression for the 25-year-old Pui O resident, who has been dividing her time between London and Hong Kong for the past three years.
She is just completing a season at the Island Shangrila and will take up a short engagement at the Grand Hyatt before heading back to London in November, where she’s booked in to play Princess Jasmine in Aladdin alongside British stalwart Christopher Biggins.
Early in the New Year, still in London, she will cut six or seven songs for the EP, including a couple in Mandarin, and release her first single. Among those backing her in the studio will be guitarist Robin Banerjee, who recorded and toured with Amy Winehouse.
Denquar, who grew up in Lantau and trained at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, has a growing following online. This video of her self-penned song, Lousy Signs, has racked up 127,000 views on Facebook in a month.
“It’s a love song about being a shy Hong Kong girl,” said Denquar.
She credits her Thai father as being her first musical inspiration. He ran a jazz bar in Phuket and played blues, rock’n’roll and reggae. He died when she was ten, leaving Denquar – real name Danielle Chupak – to be raised by her British-born mother in South Lantau.
She attended Pui O public school and YMCA College in Tung Chung, where career counsellors did their best to discourage her from music.
As it happened, just as she graduated the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was opening a musical theatre programme. She studied acting, singing and dancing intensively for a year and then at 18 landed a role as vocalist in a Disneyland stage show. After two years in the MOuse House, she took a turn singing jazz in the evening at the Grand Hyatt.
She then headed to London and passed an audition for the Royal Academy musical theatre course. But, unable to afford the hefty foreign student fees, she followed the time-honoured path, supporting herself as a waitress while honing her craft with other performers in the evenings.
She didn’t get a gig for 18 months – “it was too competitive” – but eventually found an agent who helped train her voice and performance, and the gigs started to come, both in London and Hong Kong.
She also started writing songs, like Lousy Signs.
But she relishes the comfort of her Lantau home and regularly performs here.
“Growing up here was amazing. I had so much freedom as a child. So many outdoor things – waterfalls, beaches.
“It’s nice to have access to all of this. It’s safe and familiar. If I am in trouble, I know someone.”
At a glance
Oct 15: The Water Buffalo, Pui O, 8pm
Oct 21: Hemingways, Discovery Bay, 9pm
Oct 26-Nov 25: Grand Hyatt 9pm-12:45am Monday-Saturday
Nov 4: The Big Picnic, Discovery Bay, 2:15pm
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/babyxdenx