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All at sea
Your ultimate summer junk guide
Extreme outdoor sports
2t 59 hings to do in May
Motherâ€™s Day gift guide
The really useful magazine May 2018
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27 PEOPLE 4 Snapped! Sai Kung’s social life THE PLANNER 6 Happening in May What’s on this month NEWS 10 What’s going on? In your backyard ON PATROL 12 Police blotter Assistant Divisional Commander Michael Lai reports on local crime GIVEAWAYS 13 Free stuff Fab things to win MUST HAVE THIS MONTH 14 Gifts for Mothers Day Spoil your mum
FIVE MINUTES WITH... 16 Claire Brownless Owner of Not only Olives LOCAL 18 Population on the rise How will an increase in residents affect Sai Kung? COVER STORY 20 Summer of junks Your guide to planning the ultimate junk trip DINING 24 Afternoon tea The best spots for afternoon tea this mothers day EDUCATION 26 Preschools in Nepal SKIP teacher Louise Duncan travels to rural Nepal to oversee the school’s charity work
24 HONG KONG CREATURES 30 Sssnakes… As they come out of hibernation how to identify local snakes SPORT 32 Extreme Sports From rock climbing to slacklining HEALTH & BEAUTY 38 Meditation 101 Mindy Tagliente on finding calm in the hectic city ZIM-CITY 40 Reducing waste Waking up to the threat of plastic pollution
BOOK CLUB 43 Out this month Books to read in May PETS 44 Ask Dr. Pauline Pet eccentricities explained. Plus Walkies GARDENING 47 In the garden What to plant in May VINES IN SAI KUNG 48 Recycling frustration Stephen Vines reports on the challenges facing local residents
VILLAGE FOCUS 42 Nam Wai A seaside village and former salt pan
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“BEFORE YOU SUCCEED, YOU MUST BELIEVE.” - VERNE TROYER
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…..originally from Engla nd, Julie moved to Sai K u ng 21 years ago. She now works part time at Sha Tin College a nd previously for a Sai K u ng playgroup. Julie enjoys walking, going out to eat a nd tending to her garden...especially her orchids!
…..ru ns Y oga for Life a nd lives in Clearwater Bay. She offers mindfulness a nd yoga workshops a nd retreats in Hong Kong a nd overseas as well as meditation progra mmes for schools a nd corporations arou nd the city. For more information e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
…discovered slacklining at Shek O beach in 2012. Since then, he has been training a nd leading the only active slacklining group in Hong Kong. Catch the m in the act every Tuesday night at Central Pier. For more information visit Slacklining Hong Kong on Facebook.
Want to write for Sai Kung Magazine? Contact email@example.com
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people Snaps from Sai Kung
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say cheese Rugby Sevens
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Open air cinema club: Jean de florette
The Hive in Sai Kung are showing this acclaimed French drama at their open air cinema. $100 (members) $120 (visitors). 7.30pm. The Hive Sai Kung, 5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung, 2780 5844. thehivesaikung.com.hk
UNTIL MAY 6
This arts and culture event is a festival which explores people’s creativity through in-depth discussions. Free Entry. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, 2358 8025. Ic.shss.ust.hk
Enjoy a night of effortless wit and humour with The Hong Kong Singers’ musical show: The Spelling Bee. $180 - $270. 7:30pm with a matinee at 2:30pm on May 5. McAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, 2582 0200. urbtix.hk
Intimacy of creativity festival
UNTIL JUN 3
25th Annual Putnam County
Cirque du Soleil presents: Kooza
Cirque du Soleil goes back to its roots - Kooza combines acrobatic performances with the art of clowning around in this breathtaking performance. The ‘Wheel of Death’ is probably one of their most unnerving acts to date! $488 to $1888. Central Harbourfront Event Space, 3929 9500. asiaboxoffice.com
At The Gates - Live in Hong Kong If you’re into death metal bands, check out these guys who are doing an Asia tour. $480. 8-10.30pm. Hidden Agenda, 1F, Commercial Accommodation, Ocean One, 6 Shung Shun Street, Yau Tong, 2584 48888. ticketflap.com
‘May’ we have a day off work?
May the Fourth be with you
May Day 6 SAIKUNG.COM |
Star Wars Day
Harry Styles Live On Tour
Styles is coming back to Hong Kong to perform his self-titled debut album. 8pm. $488 - $2,888 for VIP Package. Hall 5BC, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, 2922 8288. hkticketing.com
Urban farm and feast
happening in May
The Hive CoFarm is hosting a healthy eating event with workshops and delicious food. 1pm-6pm. 33-35 Hillier Street, HIllier Building, 3460 5616. thehivesheungwan.com.hk
Ancient Tibetan Singing Bowls Sound healing with Tibetan singing bowls. Benefits include relaxation and relief from physical and emotional pain. Singing Bowls (60 minutes) including 3-course dinner $698 per person. 7pm. Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy 81 Tai Chung Hau, Sai Kung, 3187 8900. facebook.com/FivelementsRetreats
Bats & Fireflies watching A nighttime adventure consisting of a 2 hour (7km) walk taking you to prime habitats of bats and fireflies. Adults $150, children $110. 7.30pm11pm. Fanling Station, New Territories, 6053 6076. adventuretours.hk
Wings for life World Run This charity race helps to raise money for spinal injury research. Sign up online. 6pm-10pm. Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Racecourse, Wong Nai Chung Road, 2895 1523. wingsforlifeworldrun.com
Sai Kung markets
Sai Kung markets, May 6
Listen and Learn
Summer Music Exchange Concert
Michiel Den Haerynck (founder of Club Soda) will be sharing the basic setup of LinkedIn, strategies to grow networks, and build your personal brand. Free Entry. 10.30-11.30am. The Hive Sai Kung, 5 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung, 2780 5844. thehivesaikung.com.hk
This fun concert is being held by the Hong Kong Song Ching Ling Goldkey Training Foundation. 6.30-9.30pm. 133 Wong Nai Chung Road, Leighton Hill, 2576 4950. districtcouncils.gov.hk
International Museum Day Hong Kong
Mothers Day Don’t forget - Mum’s the word! See page 14 our our pick of the best gifts for Mum.
AIA Vitality: District race
This race uses a mobile app to provide people with more than 80 virtual checkpoints and challenges spread across the city. Find out more on their website. Tickets at $500. 7am-3pm. Central harbourfront event space, 9 Lung Wo Rd, Central, 3929 9500. aia.com.hk
Museums across Hong Kong will host events and activities. This years theme is “Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new public”. Across Hong Kong. network.icom.museum
Conrad Pool Party French May Edition Fancy a relaxing day by the pool? Conrad hotel & restaurant are hosting a poolside ‘chill’ party which includes alfresco Italian and South East Asian food with free flow rose wine.Tickets at $598. 12pm-3pm. Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Central, 2521 3838. conradhotels.com
CCSC Campus Carnival
It’s back! Handmade crafts, organic fresh produce and lively atmosphere to fill your sunday! 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, 2799 9983. saikungmarkets.com
A fun family event being hosted in celebration of the campus’ 50th anniversary. Free Entry. 1pm-5pm. Cheung Chuk Shan College, 11 Cloud View Road, North Point, 2570 6665. ccsc.edu.hk
Witness ceremonies held by over 70 temples across Hong Kong as worshippers ask for protection and luck. Expect Cantonese opera as worshippers express gratitude and exchange fa pau or paper floral tributes. Tin Hau temples across Hong Kong
It’s that time of year again, head to Cheung Chau to see brightly-clad children on sticks and bamboo mountains covered in buns. Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau. cheungchau.org
Tin Hau Festival
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
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planner Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2018
Over 115 galleries from Hong Kong and across the world exhibit artwork priced between $1,000 to $100,000. On May 18, #ForArt’sSake charity event takes place from 6-10pm. Early bird tickets $120, Pre-fair tickets $150. Friday 12pm-10pm. Saturday and Sunday 11am-7pm. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hall 3DE, 1 Expo Dr, Wan Chai. 2582 8888. affordableartfair.com
Join Sai Kungs local vendors for their third sunday pop up sale. Have a snoop around and even stop by for some lunch along the waterfront. Momentai Kiosk 1 Waterfront, Wai Man Rd, Sai Kung, 2792 8991, facebook.com/momentaila
This tour introduces you to the rich history of Tai Po, a village in the New Territories which used to be a small market town. Adults $150, children $110. 2pm-5.30pm. Tai Po MTR station, New Territories, 6053 6076. adventuretours.hk
Sunday Pop Up at Momentai
Buddha’s birthday Happy Birthday Buddha from the Hong Kong Living team!
Inheriting Classics: Youth concert Art and culture festival is being held by the Central & Western District Association. 7.30-11pm. 5 Edinburgh Place, Central, 2858 9151. lcsd.gov.hk
Sai Kung Island Cruise A relaxed boat tour around Sai Kung’s outlying islands on a traditional wooden sampan. Adults $250, children $210. 2pm-5pm. Sai Kung Public Pier. 6053 6076 adventuretours.hk
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Wine fans unite to taste six different chardonnay to celebrate international chardonnay. $400 per person. The Flying Winemaker Tasting Room, 6th Floor, Yu Yuet Lai Building, 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central, 2522 2187. Flyingwinemaker.com.hk
Tai Po Historical Tour
The Magic Toybox - 10th Anniversary Dance Performance
Young jazz dancers will be performing their magical routine on top of a wistful and amusing script. 11am, 6pm Hong Kong Academy Theatre Hong Kong Academy 33 Wai Man Road Sai Kung 9856 9683 academyofjazz.com
happening in May
BOOK NOW VARIOUS DATES IN JULY
JUN 30-JUL 1
Children from pre-nursery to Kindergarten three can learn the basics of drama and stage performance concepts and develop performance skills. $3,900 per week, 1pm-4pm, G09-G12, Coronation Circle, 1 Yau Cheung Road, Yau Ma Tei, malvernpreschool.hk.
Yes, November feels so far away, but earlybird tickets have been released for this notto-be-missed music and arts festival which is celebrating itâ€™s 11th edition! Tickets $890$1,410. Opens Friday November 9 at 5pm. Central Harbourfront. clockenflap.com
An annual bike ride across Mongolia to raise money for charitable kindergarten, Tsolmon Ireedui Foundation. Prepare for a weekend to remember in the stunning Mongolian countryside. Registration $4,700 per person. . tifcharity.org
Malvern Little Star Summer Camp
Mongolia bike ride
Got an event? We can publish the details for free. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jaspas Junks throw in the towel
T.C. Deli’s Henry Thiel passes away A well known face around Sai Kung, Henry Thiel sadly passed away after a long battle with kidney problems. He opened Sai Kung’s branch of T.C Deli just last April as well as owning another branch in Tseung Kwan O and Lardos Steak House. He was passionate about bringing the true Danish food experience to Hong Kong. We send our condolences to both his wife and daughter with whom he leaves behind.
Casa Closes its doors Sai Kung bids farewell to yet another restaurant. Casa closed its doors on the April 2. The restaurant originally opened in August 2013 and served up craft beer and tapas, as well as much-loved beef sliders. Casa also won Sai Kung magazine’s readers choice award for the “Best Place for a Drink” last year. Although we are sad to see this independent restaurant close, there is light at the end of the tunnel, Casa promise via their Facebook page to be back open in a new location soon.
In a shock announcement this month, catering group Castelo Concepts is ceasing its Jaspas Junk business as of May 1. Citing rising operational costs and the high levels of expensive maintenance required to keep its ageing fleet of boats running, Castelo cofounders Brian and Wayne Parfitt say they will be concentrating on the group’s chain of restaurants moving forward. “Although we will no longer be chartering the junks, we will offer a variety of catering options via our restaurants for guest to book when they take out their own
TREE Closure Eco friendly furniture store TREE has announced that it will close its Sai Kung branch in mid-May. This will coincide with the opening of a new larger TREE store at HomeSquare in Shatin. The Sai Kung branch opened in 2012 and was TREE’s first branch outside of Hong Kong island. It has provided locals with handcrafted, quality furnishings and was voted Top Furniture Store 2014 by Sai Kung Magazine. The address of the new store is 101-102, HomeSquare, Shatin. In the meantime be sure to head down to the Sai Kung branch to grab a bargain in their closing sale. 116 Man Nin St, Sai Kung, 2791 2802, tree.com.hk
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junk, or book a third party charter option.” The Parfitt brothers originally picked up their fleet of six boats from HSBC at $50,000 each during the global financial crisis. The pair own oceanfront restaurant Jaspas Beach Club in Sai Kung which is sure to prove a popular spot for lunch with a water view. Alternative junk options in Sai Kung include Hong Kong Yachting, hongkongyachting.com, Island Junks, islandjunks.com.hk, and Breakaway Hong Kong, breakawayhk.com
Another Finless Porpoise corpse has been found Yet another Finless Porpoise corpse has been found in Sai Kung waters, this time in Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. The body found was a male and about 1.65 metres long. The Ocean Park Conservation Fund has recorded 18 cases of the animal’s death in the last four months alone, compared to 18 throughout the whole of 2017. The species has been labeled as vulnerable with only 200 left in Hong Kong and surrounding waters. If you happen to come across a caracus please call 1823. For more information visit email@example.com
in your backyard
Sailing adventure to Taiwan
Overheard on the 101 “I wonder where Casa’s moving to” “I hope it’s not being replaced by another fish restaurant” “Did you know police can give themselves parking tickets” “Who will win the battle of the Sunday Markets?” “What will happen to Centro if Fusion leaves?” Eavesdrop and share! Send your snippets via Facebook messenger at Sai Kung Magazine or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahoy there ye olde seadogs! Did you hear about the largest sail training yacht in Hong Kong? Her name is Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong and she’s just returned from a transformative 8 day voyage to Taiwan. The journey began March 30th and ended in Sai Kung on April 13th. Keen sailors of all ages clambered on board for this eye-opening expedition. The experience
taught people everything they needed to know about sailing, from reading nautical charts, taking command of the helm and even on-board tasks like cooking. The good news is, OBHK is preparing future voyages, so look out to enrol and have an experience of a lifetime! 210 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung, 2792 4333, outwardbound.org.hk
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REPORTS FROM sai kung police Assistant Divisional Commander Michael Lai reports on the recent cases in Sai Kung -On April 15 a house on Yan Yee Road was
broken into. The victim was traveling in UK at the time and had left his house in the care of his maid. When she checked the house the next morning she found the rooftop window prized open and about $1,500 in cash stolen. The police suspect that the thief entered through the adjacent house, which was also vacant at the time. Police advise local residents to install more security measures.
-There was a burglary at a house in Lake
Court, a watch and some other items were stolen with a total value of over $300,000. The homeowner had left his house at 7pm and discovered the theft when he returned after dinner at 7:45pm. It is believed the culprit climbed onto the first floor balcony and prized open the window frame with a crowbar, which was later found at the scene. The police are still looking into the case.
-On April 1, police noticed a taxi driver acting
suspiciously in the early hours of the morning on Chan Man Street. When the taxi was searched, police found over 80g of suspected cocaine valued at over $40,000. The driver was arrested at the scene.
-On April 19, an incense tree cutting was
found at Ko Tong. Since the cutting was left to produce resin, the police are patrolling the area waiting for the poachers to return.
-Two females from Mainland China were
arrested at East Dam. The police were suspicious when they saw a taxi leaving that area in the middle of the night and pulled the car over. Two Vietnamese males were also arrested in connection to the case for assisting the women.
-There were a total of 59 traffic accidents in April, 11 of which resulted in injuries, but no fatalities.
-On April 8 a hiker walking along the Long Ke
trail discovered a body floating in the water. The body belonged to a 25 year old male from Mainland China who was visiting Hong Kong for a few days. Police believe he was hiking alone when he fell and hit his head before entering the water. The police are currently trying to reach out to his family.
-There were three cases of online deception
this month involving the social media apps Whatsapp and WeChat. Victims were tricked into handing over MyCard Points to who they believed to be friends or partners. MyCard Points can be worth up to $10,000 and can be exchanged for cash. Police advise the public to call whoever is asking for the points first before sending anything though the apps. -
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For more information, contact Sai Kung Police Station, 1 Po Tung Road, Sai Kung, 3661 1630
win at hongkongliving.com
Catch the waves at Treasure Island Surf Camp! For nine weeks, from June 18 to August 17, young surfers will be learning surf skills, ocean safety, joining in other fun activities and making new friends on Pui O Beach, Lantau. Choose from three camps designed to suit different age groups, abilities and interests. Suitable for children ages 5-16 with daily pick up and drop off at Central pier. Learn more about the programmes at treasureislandhk.com/surf-campregistration. We have four places at any Treasure Island Surf Camp to gove away, valued at $4,200 each!
The purr-fect family treat - Tabby McTat and Fred the guitar-playing busker’s cat are coming to Hong Kong! No cat can sing like Tabby McTat, Fred the guitar-playing busker’s cat. He loves to sing as people throw coins into Fred’s hat! But one terrible day, the two are separated. Will they ever sing songs together again? From the greatest picture book team in the world comes this delightful rhyming story of music, friendship, loyalty – and cats! Visit aba-productions.com for more details. Entry deadline: May 25. We’re giving away a family set of four tickets, worth $1,540 in total, to the show at 11am on June 2.
Mini Gifts in a Tin
Keep those little fingers busy with cool kids toys from the Mini Gifts in a Tin range. Choose from ‘Mini Mini Mechanic’ to build a mini digger with moveable parts, ‘Mini Racing Cars’ complete with three cars and racing signs or ‘Mini Sock Owl’ to transform a stripy sock into a cheeky owl. All priced at $98, and available from eek.com.hk Great for birthday gifts or party bags. We have 15 Mini Gifts in a Tin to giveaway, remember to let us know which Mini Gift you would prefer to win!
Get your wardrobe ready for summer! Launched by Hong Kong mum Mehroo Turel, SUMMER is a collection of fashionable smart casuals for women and girls. Each apparel is designed to make you and your little ones feel stylish and comfortable. Perfect for Hong Kong’s fast-approaching hot and humid weather, SUMMER clothes are made of high quality, breathable fabric with dual benefits of comfort and style. Visit styleatsummer.com for more. We’re happy to give away three $300 vouchers, valued at $900 in total.
Subscribe to our e-newsletter to get all our giveaways delivered straight to your inbox: saikung.com/subscribe
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must have this month
Mum’s the word
Spoil your Mum this Mother’s Day with these glorious gifts. Triple Wrap Skinny Bead Bracelet with Pyrite - Blue Hawks Eye $1,800 from Niin, 2878 8811 niinstyle.com
Philippe V's WN5 in Tortoise US$370 at T Galleria by DFS, Lippo Sun Plaza, 28 Canton Rd, Kowloon, 2302 6888 philippev.com
White furis cushion cover $230.90 from Franc Franc Des Voeux Rd Central, 173, F/1 West Nan Fung Tower, 3425 4728, francfranc.com
The Anna $1,200 from Bydeau 5525 0037 bydeau.com
Ikigai Clutch $10,000 from Niin, 2878 8811 niinstyle.com RUMI T-LINK Shoulder bag $1,980 from Rabeanco, 6999 7223 hk.rabeanco.com
espresso Lattissima N One coffee machine $2,688 from Nespresso boutique, Lane Crawford - IFC mall, 8 Finance St, Central, 2118 2288 lanecrawford.com.hk
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mum's the word
"Marcel" open derby handmade leather shoes $2,480 from La French Cut lafrenchcut.com
La GarĂ§onne Rose Gold White Watch $890 online from CLUSE cluse.com
Macaron gift box $380 from La Maison du Chocolat, Princeâ€™s building, Shop 114, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2801 4122 lamaisonduchocolat.hk
Philippe V's Koni ring US$695 from Philippe V philippev.com
Leaf 2 Vase $599 from Bo Concept Winsome House, 73 Wyndham St, Central, 2668 0027 boconcept.hk
Food, Health and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey $320 from Bookazine, 2555 0431 bookazine.com.hk
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five minutes with
Editorial Managing Editor Gemma Shaw email@example.com Media Trainee Nicole Slater firstname.lastname@example.org Media Management Trainee Julianne Dionisio email@example.com
Design Manager Cindy Suen firstname.lastname@example.org Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz email@example.com Sonia Khatwani firstname.lastname@example.org
Digital Co-ordinator Cora Chan email@example.com
Carolynne Dear Ophelia Giles Mindy Tagliente Robert Ferguson Stephen Vines Paul Zimmerman Michael Lai
Tom Hilditch firstname.lastname@example.org
Hong Kong Living Ltd. Floor LG1, 222 Queens Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Junks
HONG KONG hongkongliving.com
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Nicole Slater talks to business owner, Sai Kung resident and mum, Claire Brownless about far more than olives! I challenged myself to do 50 different things when I turned 50 and I managed rather well. I did everything from zip wiring to jumping off a massive rock. I got a motorbike licence, went go-karting, made a huge naked wedding cake for a friend and dyed my hair blonde. I never said no to anything that was suggested to me!
all picked up three pieces of litter everyday - it’s a very small effort but I think we can help make a big difference.
as soon as my children became teenagers I decided I wanted to get back into the business world and started at weekend markets.
I’m in charge of my own life. There’s a reason I haven’t gone down the corporate line of getting a shop or hiring staff, which people keep telling me to do. Every event that I do, I take on because I generally want to do them.
People would like to have quality over price, I’m very competitive on my price, you either buy it or you don’t. I have accountability over everything I make and everything I do and I’m knowledgeable about my products.
Because I’m originally from Cornwall, a seaside area in the UK, I didn’t want the big city life. My husband was going for a job in London, I said Hong Kong is okay, but not London. We saw the diversity of Sai Kung, it was differnet back in 1989 and I just fell in love with this small town by the sea.
I don’t think i’ve ever been held back as a woman. It sort of annoys me that women are so topical recently, because there are always more solutions than problems. You can always get around a problem if you have the right attitude. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female.
If you ask the deli guy in a supermarket “Where did these olives come from?” I wouldn’t imagine he’d be able to tell you. Whereas I know exactly what goes into my marinade and where it’s sourced from.
I’m appalled by the rubbish on our streets. I walked into Sai Kung this morning with a friend. She has been picking up three pieces of litter everyday for the past 8 months and I’ve decided to take that on myself today. If we
My family have a big retail deli business in the South West of England so I have been in the business since I was 17. When I first came to Hong Kong in 1989, I focused on my family so I was very much at home for 10 years, but
Green and black olives are the same, it’s just that the black ones are a little bit riper than the green. But I love all olives! At first I named my business “Only Olives” but then I decided to add a few more products so it became “Not only olives”.
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Sales & Marketing Sales Director Hilda Chan email@example.com
Sales & Marketing Executive Isamonia Chui firstname.lastname@example.org Corrie Tang email@example.com Johnny Wong firstname.lastname@example.org
Management Trainee Charles Lau email@example.com
Apex Print Limited 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong
The Mediterranean which opened in February this year
Can Sai Kung handle more residents? With the recent opening of The Mediterranean, Nicole Slater reports on the influx of residents into Sai Kung saikung.com firstname.lastname@example.org @saikungmag facebook.com/SaiKungMagazine GIVE US A CALL! Admin: 3568 3722 Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772, 3563 9755 Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay Magazine is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Hong Kong Living Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any way, part or format without written permission from the publisher.
HONG KONG hongkongliving.com
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he Mediterranean stands out seven floors above the quaint village houses and natural landscape of Sai Kung. Apartment blocks are not a new addition to Sai Kung, as there are already the six Villa Blocks above Wilson Carpark. But as our latest addition in luxury living opens, the sudden increase in residents could become an issue in our already cramped seaside town. The past few years have seen a range of development projects around Sai Kung, from Hiram’s Highway to the much-anticipated hotel and now The Mediterranean and Park Mediterranean, which will open in May. Sai Kung is becoming more built up and modernised following in the footsteps of other waterfront towns such as Repulse bay and Kennedy town. Weekends and rush hours are already a nightmare for local residents who find themselves spending up to an hour in traffic on
Hiram’s Highway. Although road works to expand the highway by three lanes has already begun, the project is not set to be completed until 2020, resulting even more traffic delays and road accidents over the next few years. Michael Lai from Sai Kung Police Station says “We will continue to conduct traffic enforcements” but believes that “Sai Kung does not have enough parking spaces for all the new residents” Local resident Claire Brownless worries that, “the infrastructure of Sai Kung has not grown with the population. This is going to put a lot of pressure on the transport department.” she adds “personally I don’t ever come into Sai Kung on a Sunday, the crowds and congestion drive me insane”. There is an upside to welcoming in more local residents, many businesses around the town will see an increase in customers
during the quieter weekdays. Manager of The Picture House, Key believes “from a business perspective the new building will bring more customers which is great, so long as they have enough parking spaces and the infrastructure can handle it, it’s not a bad thing.” Nancy Church from The Conservatory sees both the positives and the negatives, “on one hand having more people in the area is good for business, but on the other it’s going to be a lot more crowded. It’s already so crowded on the weekends!” Businesses in the Sai Kung area have always had an issue with the lack of service on weekdays, which has been the downfall for many restaurants and shops. But with new residents and tourists when the hotel finally opens, Sai Kung will no doubt see more local businesses thrive.
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How to plan the
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hongkongliving.com SAIKUNG.COM | 21
Who to invite First you need to decide how many people to invite. You should aim to ask more people than you need - as with busy Hong Kong lifestyles, people are bound to drop out last minute. All aboard Hong Kong Yachting
What type of boating experience do you want? CLASSIC JUNK Hong Kong Yachting For a classic junk experience Hong Kong Yachting is a great option. Junk boat hire starts from $8,000 and boats can accommodate 3040 people. Choose from traditional junks, sailing boats and Western-style cruisers including Jungle Jane and Tarzan, the later has even roughed the seas sailing between Australia and Hong Kong. Hire Jungle Jane for $25,000 per day and enjoy her 22-foot wide swimming platform, when moored together with Tarzan boat, the boat duo cover 2,000 square feet and can host up to 145 people. Various catering options are available upon request. 2526 0151, hongkongyachting.com
MINI JUNKING Breakaway Company Are you planning your kid’s birthday party or a unique playdate with family friends? Consider Breakaway’s mini boat trip. This junk lasts just 4 hours, the perfect amount of time for little ones to enjoy some time at sea. Kids will love the inflatable island and pool. Parents will love the net underneath the pool so toddlers can soak safely. Children and infants are supplied with
Don’t board without Don’t forget your suncreen and swimwear! Sickness pills - someone will need them! A change of clothes (the party is sure to continue once you arrive back on dry land)
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life jackets upon request and packages include a kayak perfect for exploring nearby shores. Starting at $12,450 for 15 people with additional adults at $830 and kids at $450. Kid-friendly catering options include Mac and Cheese and Meatballs. Adults are well catered to with five bottles of wine included, plus free flow soft drinks. 6180 5059, breakawayhk.com
SPA ON THE SEA Lazy Days Cruise in style with one of Lazy Days’ luxury junks. Equipped with loungers, sound systems, water inflatables, books and magazines, guests can customise their experience by adding on spa and nail treatments, massages and even wakeboarding lessons. Catering packages start at $940 per person. Boat-only hire starts at $15,000 for a maximum of 32 guests. 3488 1534, lazydays.com.hk
DADDY’S DAY OUT HK deep sea fishing This is boating with a difference. HK Deep Sea Fishing offers fixed and tailored day charters on their two boats, ‘Thai Lady’ and ‘Fortuna’ for deep sea fishing adventures. The smaller boat travels out to Sai Kung and the surrounding islands, while the larger boat ventures further our into the South China Sea. Day trips start from $1,000 per person. Pick up at Clearwater
Bay Golf Club Marina. At this time of the year enjoy special offshore oil rig trips. 8192 7092, hkdeepseafishing.com
TEAK DECKS Hong Kong Junks Offering junks for all occasions, Hong Kong Junk boats include Swissy III and Wet Dreams both of which can accommodate up to 40 people and offer fully-equipped kitchen, bar and onboard toilet and shower. Pick up from Aberdeen, Central, TST and Causeway Bay. Maximise the fun with water noodles, face painting, wakeboarding, banana boats and an onboard DJ. Boat-only rates start from $8,000 and all inclusive packages start from $750 per person. 2840 1588, hongkongjunks.com.hk
SHORT OF TIME Aqua Luna Sail across Victoria Harbour in one of Hong Kong’s most iconic and rare red-sailed Chinese junk boats. Aqua Luna’s 45-minute evening cruise starts from $195 and takes you across Hong Kong Harbour where guests can watch the Symphony of Lights and enjoy a complimentary drink. Departure points in Central Pier 9, TST and Stanley. 2116 8821, aqualuna. com.hk Most junk packages have catering
What to eat?
Chicken on the Run Chicken on the Run is an Australian-style takeaway restaurant which offers hearty and healthy dishes including beef, fish, salads, sides and of course, freshly roasted Australian chickens. Junk sets range from $116 to $140, be sure to end on a sweet note with delicious and chocolatey brownie bites. 2537 8285, chickenontherun.com
Photo by Brent Pottinger
Monsieur Chatté A sophisticated French dining experience which includes homemade French dishes such as Quiche Lorraine, roast chicken and exquisite cheese platters. This one is for those who are feeling indulgent. Junk catering packages range from $150 to $350 per person all sets including fresh bread. 3105 8077, mrchatte.com.hk
Knead included, but you can also opt boat-alone options and source catering separately. Here’s our round up of the best junk catering companies.
Invisible Kitchen For the health-conscious, Invisible Kitchen are well-known for providing high quality food made from natural ingredients. Choose from Essentials,
Classic and Deluxe packages which include a variety of salads, pastas and sandwiches as well as some tasty treats for dessert. Prices range from $200 to $350 per person with a minimum of 15 people. Honour Industrial Centre, 6 Sun Yip St, Chai Wan, 2711 5788, invisiblekitchen.com
Where to anchor?
OUTLYING ISLANDS Cheung Chau A popular island retreat with a traditional village lifestyle, and also famous for an abundance of good quality seafood. Take a dip in one of the island’s golden sandy beaches such as Tung Wan Beach and Kwun Yam Wan Beach. Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island A pleasant spot to drift. This destination is situated on the east coast of Lamma Island and is renowned for its seafood strip near the ferry pier.
SOUTHSIDE South Bay This boat ride from Aberdeen is stable and enjoyable, so the kids won’t get seasick. The trip also offers fabulous views. The Southern coast of Hong Kong includes the more secluded, peaceful and accessible South Bay, located within walking distance of Repulse Bay and unreachable by public transport.
Knead offer freshly made sandwiches and salads with an emphasis on healthy eating. Junk packages range from $850 to $1,400 including sandwiches, pesto pasta and decadent brownies. Add on breakfast sandwiches or an afternoon antipasto platter. $60 delivery fee to your boat. G/F, 28 Jervois St, Sheung Wan, 2851 7778. kneadhk.com/catering
Po Toi Island Located approximately 30 minutes from Stanley and known as ‘the South Pole of Hong Kong’, Po Toi Island has stunning coastal scenery and is known as a great hiking hotspot.
Ninepin group (Kwo Chau Islands) The Ninepin group consists of 29 islands. As the islands are situated outside of sheltered waters, it is exposed to intense winds and big waves. Boat tours only, no land excursions. Expect to see steep cliffs, sea arches and oddlyshaped rocks. Long Ke Wan Serene beaches and peaceful surroundings make Long Ke Wan a popular pit stop for boat tours. Situated in Sai Kung East Country Park, travellers can try the MacLehose Trail or stay at the nearby campsite. Enjoy the crystal clear waters. Tai Long Wan Some of the most untouched and less visited bays are Sai Wan (West Bay), Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan (Big Bay) and Tung Wan (East Bay). Nam Fung Wan (Millionaire’s Beach) Millionaire’s Beach in Sai Kung Country Park draws in big crowds and is a popular junk destination. The area is ideal for snorkeling and exploring lagoons.
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Nicole and her Mum at The Intercontinental
Treat mum to pretty little cakes and finger sandwiches this mother’s day
The Intercontinental The Intercontinental offer a beautiful afternoon tea paired with a complementing skincare brand. Throughout May and June enjoy “Rosy Love” afternoon tea - inspired by SABON. Tea and beauty products - who’s Mum wouldn’t love this combination? Enjoy savoury and sweet treats including Gin Fizz Gravlax Salmon on Buckwheat Pancakes and Pink Rose Petal Cream and Raspberry Napoleon. $468 for one and $668 for two, they are big enough to share if you order an extra tea or champagne. Weekdays 2:30–6:00pm and weekends 1:30–6:00pm. Lobby Lounge, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2313 2323, hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com Mum will love: The stunning views of Hong Kong’s skyline and the free samples of beauty and bath products to take home.
The Conservatory Afternoon Tea is a fairly new addition to The Conservatory’s menu. There are different sets on offer depending on your appetite, from classic scones with jam and clotted cream to a delicious high tea set for two which includes cakes, sandwiches and scones for just $168. Each set includes coffee, tea or a glass of prosecco! Weekdays from 3-6pm. G/F, 26 Wan King Path, Sai Kung, 2792 1105, enotecagroup.com/conservatory
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Mum will love: The light and airy decor, perfect for sitting back and relaxing.
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin The Hyatt Regency offers a three-tier tea set that promises to make your mum feel like a queen. Assorted sandwiches, mini quiches and raspberry panna cotta are included as well as the Hyatt’s famous ‘Sha Tin Honey Cake’ made using natural local honey. Take your tea in the cozy lounge area or outside on the terrace. Weekdays 2.30-5pm. $218 per person or $368 for two. Sha Tin, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Shatin, 3723 1234, hongkongshatin.regency. hyatt.com Mum will love: Overlooking the Kau To Shan Mountains and green landscape from the terrace.
The Peninsula Lobby There’s no better place in Hong Kong to sip tea in your Sunday best than The Lobby in The Peninsula. Everything about the atmosphere oozes old-world British elegance. Afternoon tea includes three tiers of finger sandwiches, homemade pastries, and buttery scones – complete with homemade jams and fluffy clotted cream. The tea is fantastic too, with a choice of
Peninsula-branded loose-leaf brews, such as Rose and Ti Guan Yin (a type of oolong tea). Afternoon tea costs $388 per person or $688 for two, add $220 for a glass of Deutz Peninsula Brut Champagne. Available daily from 2-6pm on first-come, first-served basis. The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, 2920 2888, hongkong.peninsula.com Mum will love: The excellent service! She’ll feel like British royalty all afternoon.
Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour Hidden in the basement of The Landmark, Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour has an exclusive feel about it, thanks in part to it’s speakeasy-style entrance. Once inside, it’s an apothecary-inspired wonderland, complete with botanical wallpaper and a spattering of scientific instruments. Recently named within Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, there are 250 gins on the menu, as well as cocktails such as the Blind Tiger Gin and Tonic and the “Doctor’s Prescription” mystery drink. Dr Fern’s serves up a Mad Hatter-inspired afternoon tea, heaving with delicacies, such as the Tick-Tock Roll Lobster on fried bread,
time for tea the Queen of Tarts Matcha Green Tea Tarts, and the Cheshire Carrot Cake. Tea or coffee is included, but the doctor (or, at least, Dr Fern), might prescribe a G&T instead. $498 for two, includes coffee or tea, add $50 to upgrade to a gin and tonic. Tuesday to Sunday from 2pm. Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Rd Central, Central, 2111 9449, drfernshk.com Mum will love: The underground setting will make gin-loving mums feel totally on the pulse.
Palm Court This month, settle into a comfy sofa in the opulent Palm Court Lobby Lounge and enjoy the “Sweet Blossom” afternoon tea in partnership with luxury fragrance brand Cochine Saigon. The scents of Saigon will be transformed into bite-
Why does China love afternoon tea so much? • Strike a pose - it’s the perfect social media photo opportunity #foodporn • Through a long-established fascination with the British monarchy, afternoon tea is typically British and regal • Who doesn’t love tea and cake?
sized delicacies such as Vietnamese Cassava Coconut, Canelé and mini “Bánh Mì” brioches drizzled with lime juice and Thai basil. Take tea from Friday to Sunday and receive a Cochine gift set. $348 for one; $598 for two; additional for Perrier-Jouet rose Champagne. Available 3pm5.30pm daily. The Langham, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2375 1133, langhamhotels.com Mum will love: The elegant Wedgewood table settings elevate this experience to another level. While live entertainment enhances regal moods with harp, piano and vocal performances.
Mandarin Oriental A favourite among tycoons, tai tais and wellheeled families, Mandarin Oriental’s Clipper Lounge is sophisticated yet comfortable. The traditional English tea set is incredibly popular - expect a mix of delicate savouries, such as Turkey Mille-feuille and Ribeye Sandwiches. As for sweets? The dainty desserts include Toffee Chocolate Tart and Cinnamon Pear, and Mousse Cake. $298 Monday to Friday; $318 on Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday; $498 with a glass of Moët & Chandon Brut. Daily 2.30pm-4pm for first seating; 4-6pm for second seating. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2825 4007, landmark.hk Mum will love: The top-notch English dried fruit cake; a good one is hard to find in Hong Kong.
Sonia indulging at Mandarin Oriental
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Purple patch for Nepalese pre-schools
Louise Duncan at work in a Nepalese classroom
Preschool educator Louise Duncan travelled to rural Nepal to find out how her school’s charity efforts are being put to use
any preschool mums in Hong Kong will be familiar with Purple Cake Day. A charity day held every April, it involves kids coming to school dressed in purple and contributing purplethemed bakes and cakes. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a huge fundraiser for registered New Zealand-based charity First Steps Himalaya (FSH), which works in rural Himalaya to improve education options for underprivileged preschool and primary children. This year, former Sai Kung International Preschool (SKIP) teaching principal Louise Duncan took her support for the charity one step further. She travelled out to rural Nepal to lend a hand and to find out how the money is being used. Along for the ride was first aider Virginia Newhouse who was hoping to pass on her medical expertise.
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SKIP has been contributing to Purple Cake Day since 2015 when FSH founding director Fionna Heiton reached out to the school, and Duncan had always promised that one day she would travel over to help out personally with teacher training. This year a second-hand sale held by the preschool had raised even more cash for the charity. The pair flew to Kathmandu and were then driven out to Sangachok, a rural village in central Nepal. The area was severely affected by the 2015 earthquake when the natural spring supplying the town was destroyed. The town has a school but, as with the majority of educational institutions in rural Nepal, the teachers are untrained, resources are non-existent or in poor condition, and the schools themselves dilapidated and dirty. “We were hosted by the headmaster, who
was very hospitable, but conditions were basic. There was limited running water - I think we had one shower while we were there - and the school itself was very run down. The electricity was on and off and totally unreliable. It was sad to see the lack of resources.”
First aider Virginia Newhouse with students
teacher on tour
Duncan with students
FSH aims to re-train the teachers and provide better educational equipment. Children regularly travel an hour or more on foot to the schools which are few and far between and the charity also hopes to build more school buildings so these distances are reduced. Just before the 2015 earthquake, FSH had constructed an ‘earthbag’ education and training centre to educate large numbers of local teachers in early years education methods. The buildings are made of bags filled with earth that are wrapped in wire and used as blocks. They are then plastered over and a corrugated iron roof added. This initial building survived the tremors and the charity has since built numerous earthbag classrooms across the country. Through teacher training and improved resources, FSH is hoping to
bring about change for thousands of Nepalese children. Duncan and Newhouse were hoping to make a difference to the desperately underresourced Sangachok school had brought over 60kg of toys and first aid equipment with them, generously donated from the local community back in Hong Kong. “It was heartbreaking to see these kids turning up to school and then having absolutely nothing to play with,” said Duncan. “And even the very limited bits and pieces they did have, they didn’t know how to use. We showed one teacher how to put a domino set to use. At break time we dug out the beanbags we’d brought and invented some races in the school yard. Simple games like ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’ soon had the whole school involved and smiling.” Teaching methods also left a lot to be desired, the pair soon discovered. “The teacher in charge was only about 17 years old and had no training. The children were taught by rote and asked to stand up one by one to repeat their numbers. Of course this took forever and left the remainder of the overcrowded class bored and messing around at the back of the room.” Duncan was able to share her teaching tips and advice, as well as passing on simple
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Fast Pass Access to Hong Kong International Schools by Anne Murphy, Education Consultant for ITS In Hong Kong, it is common for children to start school as young as two years old and some infants attend playgroup at just 8 months.
more information is available on individual kindergarten websites. For example see the application processes of some popular schools as below:
Why? The logic is that the sooner your child begins his or her educational pathway, the easier it is to gain access to his or her preferred schooling choice. Applications for some schools including Discovery Bay International, Kellett School, German Swiss, French International School and playgroups including ITT, Artplus, Pebbles and Victoria Playgroup are accepted as soon as your child is issued a birth certificate. Check your preferred school’s application period - for some schools applications can be submitted one to two years ahead of the deadline. Applications submitted after the deadline, or less than a year in advance are usually considered late. It is worth checking out the application process of some popular kindergartens,
Victoria Educational Organisation: victoria. edu.hk/en/admission-how-to-apply.php Learning Habitat Kindergarten and Bilingual Nursery: learninghabitat.org/web/index. php?id=18 Tips Aim to apply as soon as you can, as early as when your child is a few months old. For older children, apply when your child is 4 years old to enter school when he or she is 5 or 6 respectively. If you haven’t yet had your child assessed at any schools in Hong Kong and you are not sure how they will be assessed or even how they will cope, please contact us for further information on our interview preparation classes: itseducation.asia/interview.php.
ITS Education Asia provides an education consulting service that works with families and employers to find the right schools for individual children in Hong Kong, from nursery to secondary schools. ITS also offers research, policy and advisory services for corporations. For more details, contact email@example.com, 3188 3940 oritseducation.asia.
Duncan helps train local teachers to engage young students
games and songs to play with the children. Newhouse was surprised by the popularity of her basic first aid course. The nearest hospital to Sangachok is 25 miles away and medical supplies in the village are limited, to say the least. “When the children fall over, they don’t cry,” Newhouse noted. “After all, who’s going to help them and with what?” Newhouse ran her full-day first aid class in the school and over 20 participants turned up. A seasoned first aid trainer, she previously
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worked for Outward Bound Sai Kung as safety coordinator and jumped at the chance to join Duncan in Nepal. “Of course I had to adapt my teaching to meet the community situation,” she said. “The hospitals here are few and far between and the road conditions are terrible, so dialling 999 in an emergency isn’t an option. I also needed to be culturally sensitive; the women were on one side of the room, the men on the other. I went through basic things such as bandaging and splinting, and they were
enthusiastic to learn.” “The whole trip was utterly humbling,” said Duncan. “They had so very little.” “But it was also incredibly rewarding,” added Newhouse. “The children were an absolute delight and so happy with what little they had.” FSH also runs a range of Himalayan tours in Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet to benefit FSH. For more information visit beyondtheclouds.org.nz.
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Sssnake season is upon us Photographer Robert Ferguson captures beautiful images of Sai Kung wildlife, he also runs wildcreatureshongkong.org Almost all of us who live in Sai Kung have seen a snake, and the big question on all of our minds is “are we safe?” The short answer is yes, no one has died from a wild snakebite in Hong Kong for many decades, but there are around 30 recorded snake bites a year across the territory, so we should be vigilant and careful. A confirmed snake ID is an essential tool to help doctors in the case of envenomation. There are 52 different snake species in Hong Kong, here we set out to identify the most common dangerous and venomous snakes of Hong Kong.
Tips for encountering snakes There is NO easy way to tell venomous and nonvenomous snakes apart, unless you actually know the snakes...and even then identification is not always clear in the heat of the moment. Keep your distance! Generally a snake can only strike within a distance of one half of its body length. Most snakes, even venomous ones are not aggressive and would rather avoid confrontation with people. Avoid snakes in the home! Close cracks and crevices in building exterior walls and floors,
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and check for any snakes around pipes and utility connections. All doors and windows should have tightly fitting screens. Add weatherstripping around exterior door frames. If one snakes its way inside...it’s a good idea to have it removed, call the police on 999 who will contact a paid snake collector. Snakes will go to Kadoorie Farm, who run a governmentcoordinated police rescue service. If you get bitten… Call 999, get to a hospital and seek medical care without delay. Don’t try to suck the venom out. Don’t cut the skin around the wound. Don’t apply a tourniquet. The British Army recommend a pressure bandage around the bite as well as above and below the bite. A confirmed snake ID is an essential tool to help doctors. To learn more Sign up to the Facebook group “Hong Kong Snakes”, which has helped so many already with good information and advice. Alternatively, head out with a professional herpetologist or guide who can help find snakes and also explain essential ethical practices,
including handling, capture and release. Will Sargent runs fantastic day and night-time snake education programmes and walks. firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Ferguson is an award winning photographer who has lived in Hong Kong 20 years, his photographs were recently selected as part of the AFCD “Zhiru-Natural” art exhibition. Follow Rob’s blog for daily updates on nature and wildlife at wildcreatureshongkong.org
Hong Kong Snakeopedia • Most species of snakes which you might encounter are nocturnal. • Only six land species can inflict life endangering bites, these are the Banded Krait, Many Banded Krait, Chinese Cobra, King Cobra, Coral Snake, and Red-necked Keelback. • Two other venomous snakes - both pit vipers, the Bamboo and Mountain Pit Viper - have bites that can cause extreme pain and swelling.
Bamboo Pit Viper (Trimeresurus albolabris)
Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus multicinctus)
Chinese Cobra (Naja atra)
Appearance: Bright green, with a triangular-shaped head and many small scales, a thin obvious neck, and orange-yellow or red eyes, with a slit (not round) pupils and a deep nasal pit. Also has a reddishbrown streaked tail. Nocturnal: yes Bite: a very painful bite, this snake is responsible for 95% of all recorded bites in Hong Kong (about 30 a year). Rarity: common
Appearance: Strongly banded in black and white, with around 30 rings. This snake is quite common in Hong Kong, and likes to eat other snakes. Nocturnal: Yes Bite: A bite with extremely toxic venom which leads to respiratory paralysis and heart failure. Rarity: Common
Appearance: A big snake - around one meter long, mostly black, but occasionally grey or gold in colour. A short, wide hood, usually with white eye spots, or “spectacles”. Nocturnal: Active day and night Bite: Bites may cause tissue necrosis and death. Some have been known to spit venom. Rarity: Common
Appearance: Red in colour with a white band behind the eyes on the head. The young are a much brighter red with thinner bands. Nocturnal: Yes Bite: Toxic venom, severe bites can be lethal. Rarity: Rare
McClelland’s Coral Snake (Sinomicrurus macclellandi)
Red-Necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri)
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
Appearance: Olive green with a red patch just behind the head, with yellow and black flecks throughout the body. The red markings can be quite faded in older adults. Nocturnal: No Bite: Not aggressive, but bites inflicted with the rear fangs – though rare - can be lethal. Rarity: Common
Appearance: Lightly banded (juveniles strongly so, with yellow bands on black). Can be black, grey, brown or even golden, with or without bands or spots. Nocturnal: No Bite: Fatal, with venom which affects the victim’s central nervous system. Rarity: Rare
Non Venomous Appearance: Bright green, and similar looking to the Bamboo Pit Viper. It has a more elongated head with much larger scales, and no neck. Nocturnal: No Bite: Mild mannered snakes who rarely bite. Rarity: Common
Greater Green Snake (Cyclophiops major)
Appearance: The most distinctive feature is that the supralabial scales (ie the scales just along and under the eyes) have a black edge as seen here in the picture. Nocturnal: No Bite: Non-venomous and bites readily. Rarity: Common
Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus) SAIKUNG.COM | 31
Taking it to the extreme From rock climbing to teetering on a slackline, Julianne Dionisio explores extreme sports in Hong Kong
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donâ€™t look down
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sport Flyboarding One for fans of Back to the Future. It’s not quite a hoverboard, but pretty close. Ivan Lee, instructor at Flyboard HK, explains all. The flyboard, much like a snowboard or a wakeboard, is connected to a jet ski by a long hose. The water propulsion that usually powers the jet ski is diverted through the hose to the flyboard, lifting the rider out of the water. You can “steer” the board with your feet and by shifting your weight. With experience, you can do fun maneuvers. The flyboard “captain” (on the jet ski) controls the propulsion, which controls your height. Professional flyboarders can fly over 40 feet above the water. Flyboard HK has a team of qualified instructors and offers introductory piloting courses for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced level training. A 60-minute session ranges from $1,300 depending on your choice of experience flyboard, jetblade and hoverboard, for beginners we recommend using flyboard. 4 people can divide an hour of lesson, 10 years old as the youngest flyboarders allowed. What do I need for a Gear? Everything is provided by your instructor! Where can I go for Flyboard? Lessons take place in Deep Water Bay. 9761 1232, flyboard.com.hk
Ivan’s top five tips for flyboarding 1. ALWAYS listen to your instructor and follow their instructions. 2. Make sure your body and mind are relaxed. 3. Maintain the right posture to help you keep your balance. 4. Make slow adjustments with your feet and then wait for the board to move. 5. Little movements are exaggerated by the board, so move slowly into the turns. 6. Don’t look down. Look to the horizon. Looking down will often mess up your balance.
Kit’s top five tips for paragliding 1. Have a flight plan. 2. Check your equipment before flying: the essentials are a compass (GPS is better), helmet, gloves, harness and elbow protection. 3. Before you fly, learn how to control the wing above your head on the ground. 4. Don’t be a hero: judge carefully whether to fly and where to land. Don’t take risks. 5. If you are in any doubt about flying, pick up your wing and walk back.
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Rock climbing Hong Kong is a paradise for rock climbers offering more than a thousand climbing routes and over 30 crags (steep or rugged cliffs). Gordon Hon founded Hong Kong Rock Climbing Adventure and has been an instructor since 2003. His company provides group tours to islands for rock climbers of all levels. He runs indoor climbing group lessons, $60 per person, from 7pm-10pm every Tuesday. Outdoor cliff and crag private tour days from $2,200 per person or a group of four for $3,520. What do I need for a gear? Non-restrictive clothing! Don’t wear anything that will get tangled with the ropes! Where can I climb? Tung Lung Chau and Central crags. 5409 4960 hkrca.com
Mountain Biking There’s a huge mountain biking community in Hong Kong which cover a diverse range of biking from cross country racing and trail riding
Gordon’s top five tips for rock climbing 1. Change your mindset, instead of focusing on your strength learn to focus on smarter and more strategic movements. 2. Trust and use your feet. Beginners focus too much on their hands. Always look for foothold, step on both feet securely before you stand up. Use your toe to step on a smaller foothold. 3. Keep your arms straight. If you bend your arms you will end up flexing them and using more energy than needed. Climbing should be done using your legs. 4. Overcome your fear, learn how to fall and how to deal with the gears. Talk to yourself in a positive and encouraging manner. 5. Pair up with a buddy. Find someone on the same experience level as you so you can support and learn from each other.
don’t look down
to downhill. Owner of Crosscountry HK, Steve Coward has been living and mountain biking in Hong Kong for 22 years. What gear do I need? A helmet that fits correctly is a must. Gloves will protect your hands. Leg and elbow pads are optional in entry level trails but should be worn when tackling faster downhill trails. Stores that offer the gear include Friendly Bicycle Shop (Mui Wo Waterfront), Sky Blue Bikes (Sheung Wan) and Flying Ball (Lai Chi Kok). Where are the best trails? Beginner: Tai Lam Chung Reservoir trail. A 13 kilometre loop starting at Tai Lam Correctional Institution, this trail gets more difficult towards the end, but you can leave at around the 10 kilometre mark and head to the Gold Coast for lunch. Intermediate: High Junk Peak in Sai Kung is a worthy trail. Most riders living in and around Sai Kung usually head out to Tai Lam Country Park which is home to the largest range of mountain
biking trails in the territory. Start in the same park up the hill at the Route Twisk entrance, either taking the Ho Pui Trail or the fast track option: MacLehose Road Stage Nine. Expert: Chi Ma Wan Peninsula on Lantau Island. Barely any of the 20 kilometres from Mui Wo is flat but this route has some great coastal views. For experienced riders looking to hook up with like minded riders check out the Hong Kong Mountain Biking Association Facebook page who organise trail building and maintenance days as well as social rides. For Downhillers Tai Mo Shan at the Route Twisk top bus stop is heaving with riders on weekends in the dry season. Cross-country HK offers skills training and guided rides using its own fleet of bikes. Prices typically start at $1,150 for the first rider with additional riders coming in at $600. 6300 1980, mtbhk.com
5 tips from a couple of Slackliners at Central Pier: 1. Just start it, don’t think about it too much. You can easily find our group on facebook, if you would like to learn from others. 2. There are plenty of information online. Instructions are available from ground level, how you rig up a line. 3. Be dedicated. Practice, practice and practice. 4. Consider every little progress as a victory. 5. Keep it fun and challenging. We do this thing where we place a bottle beneath the middle part of the rope and two people race from each end of the line.
Highlining and Slacklining Although Slacklining itself is very basic, simply balancing on a flat strap tensioned between two anchors, it has evolved into insane variations like highlining. Suspended at deadly elevation, the first highline in Hong Kong was setup in 2014 by a Chinese man and two Australians visitors. It has been left in the safe hands of Ricardo Iriarte who trains and practices the sport. What gear do I need? To begin with you can borrow a line, slackliners are a friendly bunch who are willing to share and teach others. After a year practicing you can buy your own slackline online, prices from $150. Investing in a quality one can cost you around $600. As for the highlining, everyone relies on Ricardo for the gear.
Steve’s top five tips for mountain biking 1. Build your fitness, on quiet roads if necessary. The fitter you are, the faster you can respond to changing terrain on trails. 2. Look ahead, between three metres and as far down the trail as you can see. This will give you more time to respond to hazards. 3. Be prepared, it is not ideal to ride alone. Tell someone your route and how long you’ll be gone. Know the basics, like how to fix a flat tyre and mend a broken chain. 4. Check your bike before every ride, covering essentials like tyres, brakes and steering. 5. A bike is only as good as its operator. Work on your skills and fitness long before upgrading. Nothing is more satisfying than passing a rider on a $70,000+ bike when you’re on a $2,000 secondhand steed!
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Where do you slackline or highline? The group meets up every Tuesday at 8pm between Central Pier 9 and 10, infront of the Hong Kong Ferris wheel. As for highline, Ricardo and his gang usually go to Lionâ€™s Rock, Beacon Hill and Tung Lung.
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The community around the sport is tight, with less than 50 serious individuals who can walk a line. To follow the group, head to facebook.com/SlackliningHongKong
Yuen Kit is a policeman by day and has been paragliding since 2000. Over the years he has been tangled up with an eagle, injured his hip and broken his foot. He teaches lessons throughout Hong Kong. What do I need for a gear? The instructors provide everything; from helmet to GPS. If you are taking your paragliding commitment to the next level, Kit suggests investing in a good pair of boots that offer ankle support for both hiking and landing. Where do you like to fly? On any given day, choosing the location depends on the flying conditions. In the New Territories, Ma On Shan is a popular spot to practice your take off. While Shek O and Lantau offer fantastic views. The full course with Kit includes P1 (flying under the supervision of experienced flyers) and P2 (flying solo) and costs around $12,000 and can take anywhere from three months to a year to complete. A P4 licence allows you to compete in Hong Kong. For more information call Kit on 9183 1885 or visit hongkongpilot.com
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body & soul
Finding inner peace in the city
Mindy Tagliente of Yoga for Life on meditation basics and finding calm in this hectic city What is meditation? Meditation is the ability to focus your mind on a single act or thought. People think that to be a successful “meditator” you have to have no thoughts or an empty mind, this is not the case. Our minds are made to think and have thoughts, so how can anyone expect to have no thoughts?
Meditation is the ability to stay present with those thoughts in the present moment. That’s basically what mindfulness is - being able to analyse your thoughts and feelings objectively at every moment.
How do you meditate? Meditation is not about the stereotypical image of sitting in lotus pose with thumbs and forefingers touching - getting into that pose is hard enough for most people! You can meditate lying down (although there’s always the danger of falling asleep with this one!), sitting in a chair, walking (by being mindful of each step you take) - one of my personal favourites - and even while shopping. For beginners, focus on a single thing in the present, such as your breath. When you notice your mind wandering to other thoughts, refocus. In doing this your ability to concentrate will increase. Meditation is a state of mind, which can be applied to anything you do. I know people who meditate while sitting alone at lunch, with a glass of wine. So, no excuses, really.
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Apps and podcasts to help you meditate • Headspace For a range of meditation podcasts from motivation to exercise and happiness. Headspace has you covered. headspace.com • Waking up podcast Neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author, Sam Harris talks about the human mind, society and current events. samharris.org/podcast • Meditation Minis Too busy to mediate? This podcast guides your through quick meditations that last no longer than 10 minutes. Listen on iTunes and AudioBoom. • Calm Choose from guided meditations or help get to sleep with sleep stories and soothing sounds. Available for download on iPhone and Android.
OM Kong Meditation classes in Sai Kung • Journey Within Caron teaches Journey within (meditation) classes on Wednesday mornings 9:1510:15 am. She also teaches Yoga for the Soul which practises meditative asana (postures) on Thursday mornings 10:4512pm. Classes cost $300 per person. Fivelements, 81 Tai Chung Hau Road, Sai Kung, 3959 0000, hk.fivelements.org
Mindy Tagliente in Bali
What are the benefits? It’s so beneficial on so many levels, especially in a place as hectic as Hong Kong. Of course it helps to calm the mind and relieve stress. The ability to be present with your thoughts and not let them wander creates a wonderful mental balance. Space in your mind allows you to create space in your life. You are able to see situations and challenges more objectively, thus you can choose a more favourable response, rather than allowing you emotions to react to them. This is so empowering. It feels great when you are in control of your life!
How do you encourage children to meditate? Children respond really well to visualisations, colours and images. Young children often struggle with attention span, so having something to focus on visually is a great way to encourage a stiller mind. Everyone is different though, some children respond better to sounds, or even smells.
Do you have any favourite spots in Sai Kung to practice meditation? I love sitting on the rocks by the sea, along the promenade in Sai Kung. It’s a great spot, you can feel the breeze on your face and listen to the sound of the waves. I think anywhere in nature is good to meditate and we are lucky in Sai Kung to have a lot of that. Mindy runs Yoga for Life, as well as personal meditation classes she offers mindfulness and yoga workshops and retreats both in Hong Kong and overseas. Recently she has developed wellness, mindfulness and meditation programmes for schools and corporations. Mindy will hold a “Strong Body, Powerful Mind” retreat at The Layer villas in Seminyak, Bali from 27-31 May. The weekend combines yoga,
• Katie Ellison Learn the essential skills of meditation and train your mind to become more peaceful. Kadampa Meditation Centre Hong Kong holds regular meditation classes at The Hive in Sai Kung on Wednesday evenings 7:30-8:45 pm. Classes are free of charge; donations are welcome and go towards running the centre and spreading Buddha’s teachings. 2507 2237, meditation.hk/sai-kung/ email@example.com • Julie Dixon Yoga classes with Julie involve a mix of mediation, stretch and strength work. Vinyasa flow and props are used to aid relaxation and help to destress, focus the mind and body. Classes are $150 at Adventist College, Tuesdays 9am and 7.30pm and Thursdays 9am. 9285 9199, firstname.lastname@example.org
bootcamp, meditation and neuro linguistic programming. For more information whatsapp 9748 4567 or email email@example.com
What are the specific benefits of meditation for children? If I start on the benefits of meditation for children and teenagers, I won’t stop! Briefly though, meditation can help with exams, homework, pressures of school life, bullying, alienation, peer pressure...the list goes on.... It can provide children and teenagers with the tools to have balanced minds, be in charge of their thoughts and feelings and know how to recognise and respond to them. This is essential, as far as I am concerned. If meditation was taught as a subject at school, what great world leaders we would have in the future!
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Put down the plastic Businesses and NGOs Unite to Help Hong Kong reduce waste
ountries and municipalities around the world are waking up to the threat of plastic pollution and are taking action to reduce the production, consumption and waste of a material that takes just seconds to make and may be used for mere minutes before lingering in our environment for upwards of five centuries. The price of our plastic addiction is becoming clearer by the day. According to UN estimates, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, and 60 to 90 percent of marine litter is composed of different plastic polymers. Bans or surcharges for plastic bags have won acceptance the world over, including in Hong Kong, but this is just the beginning. It has been estimated that by 2021, humans will annually use as many as half a trillion plastic bottles—most of which will end up in landfills or choking the marine environment. Every day, Hongkongers throw away 136 tonnes of plastic bottles, 91 tonnes of cardboard drink cartons, 41 tonnes of aluminium cans and 275 tonnes of glass bottles. While the recycling rate for aluminium cans is high and the government has mandated a producer responsibility scheme for glass, huge amounts of waste from our consumption of drinks is simply being
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dumped. With China’s crackdown on imports of plastic trash, there has never been a more pressing time to rethink how we design, use and dispose of beverage packaging. To quote Allen Li, President, The Hong Kong Beverage Association Limited: “Something is remiss with almost all singleuse beverage containers going into Hong Kong’s landfills today.” That’s why in December last year, key players from the city’s beverage, retail and waste industries announced they were partnering with NGOs and academics to form the “Single-Use Beverage Packaging Working Group”. Participants include Swire Beverages, Vitasoy, Dairy Farm, Designing Hong Kong, Plastic Free Seas, WWF and Ocean Recovery Alliance. I have been asked to chair the Working Group and our “Drink Without Waste” campaign aims to recommend actions required from industry, government and other stakeholders for reducing waste from beverage consumption in Hong Kong. We have recruited Deloitte Advisory and local consultancy Waters Economics to identify viable scenarios covering packaging, distribution, refilling, rebates, deposits, taxation, infrastructure, waste handling, recycling, education and regulations. Later this year, the working group will deliver a report
with an analysis of the economic, social, environmental cost and benefits of each scenario for consideration by stakeholders and the public. Drink Without Waste is dovetailing with the government’s study of the feasibility of a Producer Responsibility Scheme for plastic bottles, and its plans to subsidise and invest in collection and recycling of plastic bottles.
Paul Zimmerman is the CEO of Designing Hong Kong, a Southern District Councillor and the coconvenor of Save Our Country Parks alliance.
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Ophelia Giles explores a peaceful seaside village and former salt pan
lose to Marina Cove is the small harmonious village of Nam Wai. The village is located in the cove, there is a long tarmacked road which runs straight through the middle until eventually coming to a dead end, which means no noisy stream of traffic. There are two sides to the tarmac road, the first being a long line of houses, new builds accompanying old builds. The other side of the road is a mix of car parking spaces, and shaded areas provided by bamboo shelters complete with tarpaulin. This is a captivating and charming residential village with a historic feel to it. This could be due to all the old builds which still exist here, and certain points of interest such as the old temples and altars used for prayer and offerings to the Gods. There is also an old basketball court with crumbling walls and a rusted hoop which feels like itâ€™s been there for a long time, yet children still use it to run
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around and play. The residents seem content and relaxed, washing their cars or standing in doorways watching the outside world. Indigenous inhabitants have been living in Nam Wai for around 200 years, the village was built by the Shing family, legend has it that they had trouble fending off pirates because of their seaside location so they recruited the Yau family to help defend the village. The Yau family also helped with farming.
Another element to add to its history are the many run-down salt pans dotted along the road, ruins of their former selves. The village was used long ago for salt production, like many villages in Hong Kong this rural way of life became too difficult and before long residents moved to more livable areas. It seems a little unkempt, but in some ways, this adds to the rustic vibe. Overgrown weeds and crumbling stone architecture make it seem as though nature and civilization are forming as one.
There are also a number of plastic chairs dotted around perfect for residents to sit and enjoy the view of boats and birds, grey herons and kites duck in and out of sight, looking for fish. At the end of the road there is a small walkway running adjacent to the sea, with a huge mansion-like villa surrounded by iron gates. All in all it doesnâ€™t take long to explore Nam Wai, but there is still plenty to see and loads to appreciate about it. Want to be village correspondent? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
To mummy with love Gift ideas for book-loving mamas
The Night Before Mother’s Day
What Not to Give Your Five Forget Mother’s Mom on Mother’s Day Day
How It Works, The Mum
A Ladybird Book
Dad and the kids whip up a bunch of special treats for the lovely lady in their life. A sweet story and a great way to introduce littlies to the idea behind Mother’s Day.
Don’t give mum a rotting log unless she’s a salamander, or a bunch of flies unless she’s a spider. Top tips for Mother’s Day gift-buying from one little boy.
Based on Enid Blyton’s beloved Famous Five books, this new, tonguein-cheek series for grown-ups see George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy show Aunt Fanny just how much she means to them.
A mum has two very important jobs. One, to look after the children. Two, to do everything else as well. A laugh-out-loud coping with the world mechanism for adults.
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Ask a vet... Pet eccentricities and abnormalities. Dr Pauline answers your questions “Is it safe to give my dogs Benadryl?” Benadryl is the tradename for an anti-histamine drug called diphenhydramine. In most countries it is an “over the counter” product that comes in many forms including liquids, pills, lotion and as an injectable. It is used to treat several common conditions that involve the release of histamine in the body. These include allergies (where it dries up the mucous secretions and decreases coughing), nausea and itchy skin. It has, in addition to helpful effects, actions in other areas that can lead to unwanted side effects. I always advise caution in giving any medication to a pet. Although it is generally a safe drug when given at an appropriate dose, I would never advise this be given to a young pup and suggest a word with your vet before using on any dog. “Why have my dog’s eyes turned bloodshot red?” There are many causes of “red eyes” (the whites of the eyes turning red due to swollen blood vessels on the surface). However, should this be accompanied by any signs of pain, tears or discharge, half closed eyelids or swelling you must see a vet as soon as you can as it could be an ocular emergency and your
dog’s eyesight could be at risk. Red eyes can affect one or both eyes and common causes include allergies and mild infections when the eye will tend to have a pink/red appearance rather than blood red. More serious conditions include glaucoma, infections, damage to the cornea (the surface of the eye), other traumas and some viral diseases. While there are many home remedies for mild eye problems including using cucumber slices or tea bags to soothe pink eyes, with bloodshot red eyes my advice is to get your dog to a vet as soon as you can. “Do cats feel cold and should I be worried about this when I’m not at home?” Adult cats are very smart animals and good at keeping their body temperature in a normal range which is between 100 - 102.5°F (37.7 – 39.1°C). This control is regulated by a number of factors that includes external and internal ways. In a home situation most healthy cats, if they feel cold, will move to a place where they can warm up. This could be a move to a sunny window sill or a sleeping place on/in a bed. Other “internal“ ways that cats regulate their temperature include physiological changes that alter the flow of blood throughout the body,
Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email email@example.com
Walkies Walkies with Sai Kung resident Julie Slater
udge is 4 years old, but she has arthritis in her back legs so we need to make sure we take her on walks that are not too strenuous so that she is not in too much pain afterwards. Our favourite walk is Pak Tam Chung Family Walk, in the country park. You take the stairs uphill from the barbecue pits by the welcome sign to Pak Tam Chung path. The walk flattens out after that. I really like that it’s shady from the trees, especially in the summer months. After about half an hour of walking you come to some more unhill stairs leading to a third barbecue area, which is usually empty. There is a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains once you get to the top. In this area, Fudge loves to have a drink, fetch sticks and just have a wonder around. We tried to bring a tennis ball once but
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after just two throws it disappeared into the wilderness! We used to continue walking down after this point, but found walking along the road back to our car rather tedious, so instead we just turn around and walk back in the same direction. The walk is directly next to the Pak Tam Chung Bus Terminus, making it easy to take the 94 bus from Sai Kung or there is free parking available. Pak Tam Chung
trap warm air around their hair to insulate the skin and even cause shivering which produces warmth. Take care however as shivering can also be seen when your cat has a fever. Keeping cats in a small cage at home isn’t what I would recommend but if you must then access to either hot or cold resting areas is important. Kittens however are unable to maintain their body temperature and they need special care to stop them getting cold.
Dr. Pauline Pets Central veterinarian Dr. Pauline Taylor answers your questions.
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in the garden
What to plant in May?
y fellow Hong Kong gardeners, May is upon us and you know what they say; March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. With average temperatures of 24°C (75.2°F) and 28°C (82.4°F), this warm month is full of exciting gardening opportunities. I do love that sweet smell of spring, which is soon to become summer. Now, let us inspect your tillaged land. Those Annuals sown in March will now be ready for potting on for flowering specimens and for planting in beds. Allamandas and Buddleias should also be repotted. Remember these South American genus of plants provide the garden with flowers all through the summer months. Pot on Crossandra Infundibuliformis for specimens. Remember it likes a light soil, and must be grown in the shade to ensure further success. Cuttings of Eupatorium Atrorubens may now be put in, also another batch of Coleus cuttings. Poinsettias should be put into flowering pots. They should be given a rich soil in order to grow into a fine display, and I have found they succeed best when placed where they get the morning sun. Freesias will now have finished their growth and should be kept dry. These flowers are favourites with most people on account of their delightful fragrance. They are as useful for cut flowers as they are for beds! Geraniums, which are by no means as easy to grow in Hong Kong as they are in England, will keep better through the summer if protected from heavy rains, perhaps verandahs are suitable places to keep them in and the same applies to Heliotropes. The following seeds may be sown: Chinese Balsam, Sunflower, Armanthus globosus, Ipomoea Quamoclit and Cockscombs. The number of temperate and tropical plants which can be grown in the Colony is remarkable, isn’t it? A lot more than you would have originally thought. Well, that’s what I’m here for, to help you succeed at being a true Hong Kong gardener! By William James Tutcher F.L.S (1867-1920) Superintendent of Hong Kong Botanical Gardens. Paraphrased from his seminal 1906 work Gardening for Hong Kong.
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Our daily battle to recycle Residents’ frustration at lack of recycling facilities
One task force the rich and another for the rest
Recycling centre at Sha Kok Mei
How are village residents supposed to recycle? Are you keen on recycling? Hopefully you are, but if you live in Sai Kung’s village areas how on earth are you supposed to go about doing this? Most villages have small litter collection points supplied by the government. Some, but not all, have separate receptacles for various kind of recyclable waste but many do not. Moreover these recycling bins are generally topped by tiny and cumbersome to open lids making the actual business of disposal highly problematic. If, like me, you gather together big bundles of newspaper, stuffing them into these tiny openings is a nightmare. Unsurprisingly therefore most people do not bother to separate their waste and when it comes to large items they are simply dumped close to the bins. Thankfully some of this bigger stuff gets picked up by private waste recyclers but not always. Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Department has been shamed into action by members of the public providing photographic and video evidence of waste dumping which is contrary to the Waste Disposal Ordinance. Prosecutions have ensued but this is hardly the end of the matter. If the EPD is serious about both environmental waste collection practices it cannot just rely on wielding the big stick of the law, it needs to be proactive in making it easy for the public to separate their waste and dispose of it.
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Pace of closures accelerating It seems that hardly a week goes by without the closure or movement of shops and restaurants in Sai Kung town. Wellcome has gone, the very long standing electrical goods supplier Patsy House has been forced out of its premises by a rent increase and will now move to a smaller shop. Restaurants are also on the move with Italianos shutting down, Al’s Diner coming and going in record time and the long standing noodle shop close to the Post Office also calling it a day. These are random examples, there are more. I don’t think it’s my imagination but this rate of turnover seems to have increased recently and, it appears, will soon be taking in new casualties. This is the brutal reality of life in Hong Kong from which Sai Kung can hardly be exempted however what’s at stake in our area is something bigger because we are in the highly unusual position of being home to a far larger number of independent retails outlets than elsewhere in the SAR. The danger is that as rents rise only the big chains will be able to afford these vacated premises and Sai Kung will be inflicted with the retail homogeneity that blights the rest of Hong Kong. There really is no point in bleating about landlord greed because you can hardly expect business people to forgo profit when it stares them in the face. The real problem lies with government pursuing policies that send property prices soaring and then soaring even higher after it announces laughable measures to ‘cool the property market’.
Meanwhile here we are again - the Lands Department has set up not just one but two new task forces to tackle the issue of illegal land use and development. This is part of a very, very long saga over land use. According to Lands Director Thomas Chan what’s new here is that one of the new task forces will be tackling ‘serious’ land use violations but will be more lenient on minor infringements. This sounds really good until you realise that this is precisely what has been said many times before but the reality is that while powerful village leaders can get away with all manner of illegal structures and land clearances, the great army of government clipboard wielders spend most of their time harrying less well connected citizens over petty infringements to the regulations. Why does anyone believe it will be different this time around? In addition a 80-strong team has been established to deal with the big property developers and major projects, i.e. schemes involving over 500 units or areas in access of 10,000 square meters. As the government has no greater aim in life than to please the big property developers you can be pretty certain that this task force will be put to work ASAP because there is no greater priority than speeding up the process of satisfying major property developers.
Stephen Vines is a journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. He is the former editor of the Eastern Express and Southeast Asia correspondent for The Observer.
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