Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Old Streets of Sai Kung

In the old streets of Sai Kung I discovered a little shop called "Wo Cheong Hou" located on the G/F No. 14 Main Street Sai Kung, New Territories. Inside, perched on a stool, sat a little old man called Mr Mak who is one of the last remaining iron mongers in Sai Kung if not Hong Kong. Displayed proudly all over one wall were photo's of Margaret Thatcher, her entourage and Mr Mak when she had last visited his shop. Out front were Mr Mak's hand made buckets, watering cans, metal boxes and the like and towards the back an assortment of mail boxes.

On Hong Kong island I normally find that the locals are quite reluctant for me to take their photo but when I asked Mr Mak he immediately straightened his back, adjusted is glasses and obligingly struck a pose. Mr Mak absolutely made my day! And, I have to say that I felt very honoured to be able to take his photo as I was not only capturing a remarkable man but also a part of Hong Kong's history. Mr Mak is 93 years old, still works very hard and credits his good health to his diet and exercise. He explained that there aren't too many products on the market like his anymore because the youth of today aren't interested in learning a trade that's not profitable enough. So after spending a lovely half hour with Mr Mak and one of his neighbours I proudly walked away with a smile on my face and my shiny new mailbox tucked under my arm.

Next stop down the street and around the corner was a little tea shop called "Tea & Zen". Here I spent a good couple of hours talking to Raymond and his wife Debbie (the owners), Clarence and Maria. I learnt what I was doing wrong when I was making my pu-erh (bolay) tea and I also received a Cantonese language lesson. We then talked a little about global politics, cultural differences and photography all the while sipping our pu-erh. Then, much to our delight and unbeknown to us, Maria had visited one of the street stalls and had come back with brown paper bags full of Chinese egg puffs, which were absolutely delicious. It was a wonderful afternoon and I walked away with some pu-erh tea to replenish the stock in my cupboard. Must remember to put 5 gm pu-erh in a small teapot (10 gm for a larger one) and to flush the tea leaves twice before steeping in boiling water. After the tea has steeped for about 30 seconds you can then pour the tea into a glass jug and leave the tea leaves dry in the pot until you are ready to make more tea. You can do this up to about ten times at one sitting before disposing of the tea leaves.
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