Saturday, August 8, 2009


"That time. We used to be happy
Well, I thought we were
But the truth was that -
you had been longing to leave me
not daring to tell me"

"I'm standing here alone
It doesn't seem so clear to me
What am I supposed to do about
this burning heart of mine
Oh ! What am I to do!
Or how should I react?
Oh ! Tell me please!"

Stories - Viktor Lazlo

Thank God, he was finally in contact. I start to realize that he and I are actually not that close (原來他跟我是這麼遠). I don't understand him at all ... maybe I overestimated my importance in his heart. I start losing my trust in him. Love is actually vulnerable. 我又可以點呢?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

where are you my love?

I know you don't want me to write anything about you but now that's the only way to express myself. You've been missing for a few days already and I can't do anything to help finding you ... do you know how painful it is? Even though we haven't been together for a long time but I remember every single part that we spent together. I found time was too short when we were together and it became way too long when we were apart.

If God sends you to me as my partner, please don't take it away. Besides my childhood, last month was the happiest time in my life since you were there with me. You said you are lucky to have me, I feel the same way too even though I didn't say it out. I wish we can be together forever no matter what happens.

How come all the sudden you are missing? Please show up soon. I can't wait anymore. I will be collapsed. I tried to sleep and then wake up next day expecting your message but I can't. My brain cannot be rested until I know where you are and that you are safe.

My love, you are not perfect and outstanding at all, but I truly love you since I am attracted by your innocent smile, your passion for nature and animals, your passion for helping the others. I felt quite happy when you showed your caring of me. Your kind, gentle personality has influenced my impression of your ethnic.

You know today is the most painful day for me as I realized you are vanished. I really really hope that you are just being naughty and will come back next morning. I cried for you two times today already, and I've never cried since I met you until today. Before I was the one to decide where to go, in the future when you are back I will let you decide where we should go. As long as you are back I will listen to you. You are really my everything.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Life in Half Century Ago

As I was born in late 70’s and grew up in 80’s, all necessities and even accessories have been readily available. I’ve never had to worry about water supply, electrical shortage, food, etc. Going to school, taking drawing lessons, watching TV at home, listening to music, having snacks (candy, chocolate , ice cream) and shopping were common activities during my childhood. When I was young, I thought my mom's life was pretty much the same as mine for her childhood until recently when I wrote something about Hong Kong resettlement area, I realized how different my mom’s life was as a child.

My grandpa owned a barber shop and my mom lived in an apartment unit above the hair salon when she was a kid until my grandpa’s bankruptcy. When my mom was a teen, she moved in Wang Tau Hom Estate (橫頭磡邨). Here I’m trying to describe the lifestyle of old generation in resettlement estates (almost half century ago) based on what my mom told me.

As I mentioned in another article, there was no private kitchen or bathroom in early style resettlement blocks. Instead, public shower, washroom and running water were provided. Imagine having to walk out to the corridor to get into the washroom in a very cold winter night … that’s why most units have their own potty (便壺) for convenience. So in the morning the urine from the potty would be taken to public washroom and thrown into the squat toilet. Janitor came once a day to clean the washroom and the squat toilet was flushed few times a day. Hopefully you are not eating now since it’s a bit disgusting to talk about potty/toilet … oops! Let’s switch to another activity … laundry. Of course no washer/dryer at that time, people washed their clothes using washboard (洗衣板) in a communal room with water facilities (洗衣房). This room was also used for cleaning veggies (洗菜). When people needed water, they had to get it from this room with their own buckets; the worst time was during water supply restriction (制水), only four hours of water could be supplied each day so there was always long line up for the water.

The way to dry clothes in resettlement area - hanging them out on the balcony.

Unlike modern days, many common appliances or electronics such as refrigerator, microwave, television, VCR, computer and telephone were not available in most households. All meats or produces purchased must be cooked and finished on the same day. Kids would be so excited to have ice-cream or jelly once in a while as they could not have cold beverages or cold desserts at home (remember no fridge!). TV was not common until 70’s and radio such as Rediffusion麗的呼聲 was not free thus not many family could afford to rent the radio channel. Fortunately their lives were quite busy (full of daily household activities after work – buy veggie/meat, cook rice using pot, laundry, etc.) with no time to watch TV (追劇集) otherwise they must be bored to death. Telecommunication was not easy back then, borrowing an analog phone from a convenience store (士多) was the way to call a friend.

An old analog phone - I recall the one we found in corner store was often in black colour.

Life was more environmental friendly in the past. For example, bottles of shampoo could hardly be found; hair was washed with soap or home-made shampoo (cutting soap into tiny pieces then mixing it with water). Plastic bags were not invented before 70’s, almost everything was packed in a piece of newspaper then tighten by cyperus tegetiformis/natural strings (鹹水草). People used this method to wrap eggs, tofu and meat, etc. or simply bunch of veggies roped by the natural strings. If a hole was found in the clothing, instead of buying a new one, it could be sewed with another piece of fabric to cover the hole. When the heel of a shoe was broken, it could be fixed at a shoe repair shop.

eggs packed in newspaper which is then roped by a natural string

green onion tighten by natural strings

Life in the old generation was much more inconvenient and difficult. But if I have a chance I don’t mind obtaining this kind of living experience, I mean just for a few days … maybe Mei Ho House (美荷樓) the only Mark I resettlement block left at Shek Kip Mei Estate is a good option if it can open to the public one day?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

HK Resettlement Areas 徙置屋邨

20 years ago when I was still in Hong Kong, there were lots of resettlement areas around. At that time I didn’t pay much attention to these areas until now I regret not having too much memory of it. I only recall I’ve been to Wang Tau Hom Estate when I visited my grandparents at the age of four or five. Fortunately I’m able to obtain handy and helpful information about resettlement blocks through the internet, thanks for the technology (without internet I don’t think I can get the resources easily and share that with others)!

Beginning of Resettlement Areas

The population in Hong Kong was about 600,000 after WWII. Between 1945 and 1950 its population increased to 2 million since large number of people coming from mainland China as a consequence of the Civil War. At that time the housing stock of Hong Kong was completely inadequate so many immigrants settled in wooden shanties in squatter areas. On Christmas Eve in 1953, more than 50,000 people were homeless after a fire swept through Shek Kip Mei squatter area. Due to the crisis, government started constructing the resettlement blocks for the homeless people and other squatters.

Types of Resettlement Blocks

There are six types of resettlement blocks – Mark I to VI. A place with a few to a few dozens of resettlement blocks is called resettlement area (RA). Mark I and II were 7-stories blocks with no bathroom and kitchen in each unit. In the 60s more advanced housing has developed – Mark IV and V, 16 stories building with washroom and kitchen in each unit. In today’s living standard, the design of Mark I to III blocks may be considered as inhuman and intolerable; but back then people were happy and satisfied with their homes since living in a concrete building was safer and more reliable than in squatter huts.

Mark I Block – H shape:

The earliest type of resettlement blocks in Hong Kong. These H-shaped 6 to 7 story houses contained back-to-back rooms on the long arms. Each unit was about 120 square feet with no kitchen and washroom. Only the cross bar of the H contained public washroom, showers and running water. Cooking was done on the access corridor outside each unit. Rooftop was used as school and community centre (天台小學).

Mark I Resettlement Block Floor Plan

Chai Wan Estate 柴灣邨

Shek Kip Mei Estate 石硤尾邨

Mark II Block -日shape:

It was first appeared in the East Village (東頭邨) around 1959. The design was very similar to Mark I blocks except a larger separate unit with its own washroom and kitchen was built at both ends of each story.

Mark II Resettlement Block Floor Plan

Tai Wo Hau Estate 大窩口邨 1961

Mark III Block – I or L shape:

Nothing much different from Mark I and II only each unit had a private balcony.

Mark IV Block:

In mid 60’s there was a big improvement in the construction and design of resettlement blocks. Mark IV became high rise buildings – 13 to 20 stories. Each unit finally not only had its own balcony but also washroom and kitchen. Normally two elevators could be found in each block – but the elevator only stopped at ground and one particular floor.
Of course the size of each unit was bigger than those in Mark I to III – probably around 250 - 350 square feet. The shape of Mark IV building could be I or E or T.
No more schools and community centers on the rooftops instead they were built separately within the resettlement area.

Tai Wo Hau Estate Block 20 in 1966 - the only Mark IV block in its resettlement area

Mark V Block:

Very similar compared to Mark IV – I or T shape (the T built significantly shorter than in Mark IV). Some blocks were connected together to create a wide or extra long corridor. The unit area had more choices.

Mark V Resettlement Block Floor Plan

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate Block 13 牛頭角下邨第13座 in 1969

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate Block 13 牛頭角下邨第13座 in 2008

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate Block 8 牛頭角下邨第8座 in 2009

Mark VI Block:

Not too much info I could find for VI blocks – they were built in the early 70’s, should be pretty much the same as IV and V but the unit areas were larger than in the previous block types.


As the demolition of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate II (Mark V blocks) will start this month, the period of Hong Kong resettlement areas is completely ended. The buildings have valuable history but unfortunately none of them can be kept. Even though the living standard in today’s society is much better than decades ago, the mutual support between neighbours (守望相助) or people with warm hearts and sincere smile (人情味) during resettlement block era is not easily found in the modern dwellings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Memory of Leslie Cheung

Today is April fool and also the 6th anniversary of Leslie Cheung’s death. Leslie (張國榮) was one of the most popular superstars in Hong Kong during mid to late 80’s. His popularity was just like Elvis Presley in the 60’s and Michael Jackson in the 80’s. His career was not limited to singing on stage but also acting in movies. I didn’t pay too much attention to Leslie during my childhood since I was a kid and his market was mainly for adults particularly young ladies. But I still remember seeing him on TV very often such as from EYT (歡樂今宵 – a family entertainment show running every weekday evenings), Jade Solid Gold (勁歌金曲 – a music show releasing once a week) & TVB Anniversary Gala (萬千星輝賀台慶), etc. The first song I heard from Leslie probably is 430穿梭機 (430 Shuttle – a kid program on TVB Jade starting at 4:30 pm Monday to Friday from 1982 til 1989). In December of 1989, Leslie declared his retirement from singing career and held the Final Encounter of the Legend Concert for 33 consecutive nights at Hong Kong Coliseum. I recall passing by the Coliseum one night during Christmas in 1989 and there were many people waiting to get in for Leslie’s final concert.

A few months after Leslie’s retirement, I had a chance to watch his first concert on a tape – Leslie Cheung Summer Concert 1985. After watching the concert, I got a clue why he was so successful and outstanding from the others – attractive appearance with melancholic eyes, charm and sweet smile, special and distinctive voice. Both his images and songs were combination of east and west.

Leslie sang so many hit songs during his lifetime such as 風繼續吹 (The Wind Blows On), 第一次( First Time), Monica, 少女心事(Young Girl’s Thought), 只怕不再遇上 (Afraid We Won’t Meet Again), Stand Up, 當年情 (Past Love), 無心睡眠(No Mood To Sleep), 沉默是金 (Silence is Golden), etc. But there are two songs I particularly like which were somehow as not popular as the others - 片段 (Piece of Memory) & 可人兒 (My Sweet Girl).

片段 (Chinese version of “Casablanca) sung by Leslie during his concert in 1985

可人兒 a song from the movie “Last Song in Paris” in 1986

Does anyone know where to buy Leslie’s Summer Concert 1985 since I want to watch it again?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour 地球一小時 (March 28)

Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and it takes place on the last Saturday of March every year. It gives us a signal that small actions can make a significant impact on climate change. Basically WWF asks individuals and businesses to switch off lights for an hour between 8:30 and 9:30pm on Saturday (March 28).

The event was first held in Sydney, Australia where 2.2 million people and thousands of businesses turned off their lights from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on March 31, 2007. In March 2008, 35 countries with over 50 million people around the world turned off their lights for an hour. This year 250 cities in 74 countries including China and India will participate in the event. So let's work together to reduce energy consumption by turning off the lights for just one hour tomorrow!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Have I Seen You Before?

Today I was on my way down to the Dean’s office and I saw Dr. McArthur in the aisle. He is currently a new lecturer for a few classes in our department. This is my third time seeing him this term so I greeted him politely with smile. Suddenly he said “I’ve seen you before in Macmillan. Were you in food science or plant science?” ... My brain read “OH MY GOD! I don’t recall being his student” Then I realized that I studied a food science subject and a plant science correspondence course but it was 11 years ago. He said he’s been teaching plant science around that time. Still why can he recognize me since I didn’t see him a lot while I was a student as it was a self-learning course???

Actually it’s not the first time I’ve encountered this situation. This January I brought my girl friend’s gift to her friend. I thought it was the first time seeing this guy but then he told me “I’ve seen you before during high school”. GOSH! It was 14 years ago and we’ve never been in the same class plus back then my senior high school had more than 500 students in grade 12 with half of them from Hong Kong or Taiwan!!! I never expected people to have impression of me since I was a very ordinary and shy girl, not outstanding at all. Hopefully people remember me not because I looked rare or behaved strangely.

I’d better behave well since it’s hard for me to hide myself as I can be identified easily which I didn’t realize until now…DEMM!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pictures of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (II) - Hong Kong’s Last Resettlement Area (1969 – May 2009)

Photo of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate I & II before the construction of Kowloon Bay MTR Station and Telford Garden. Block 1,4,8 & 13 had Victoria Habour view back then. (九龍灣避風塘 in the 70's)

Lower Ngau Tak Kok Estate Block 4 which was demolished in 2003.

Lower Ngau Tak Kok Estate Block 7 (with pink wall) and Block 9. Block 7 was demolished in 2003 and Block 9 will face the same destiny in May 2009.

Map of Lower Ngau Tak Kok Estate – Blocks 1-7 belong to Zone I; Blocks 8-14 belong to Zone II. Buildings are often connected such as blocks 2 and 3/blocks 4 and 5/blocks 8-11.

An extra long corridor in Block 9.

Can you still find an old-style mailbox besides the door gate in modern society?

Each unit is about 200 - 300 sq ft which can live up to 6-7 people.

A huge corridor for children to play hide and seek!

Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate is a type 5 resettlement block with 16 levels which back then was considered an advanced public housing compared to type 1-3 resettlement blocks since it has its own bathroom and elevator.

However the elevator doesn’t stop at every floor. I haven’t been to the dwellings but based on my investigation, I think each block has two elevators with each elevator taking passengers from ground to just one particular floor. For example, one building has elevators stopping at floor 9 or 14.

I bet some people have never seen this washroom before … very old style squat toilet (舊式「一渠通」廁所).

I’ve seen this old style squat toilet at Wang Tau Hom Estate when I was four or five. So when I discovered the same kind of toilet in Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, it was like discovering treasury since I haven’t seen it for more than 20 years and it will soon be extinct.

The first place you will see when heading to Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate from Kowloon Bay MTR Station is the market besides Blocks 8 & 9 - plenty of stores on the ground floor.

Restaurants at Block 9

Market at Block 9

Market at Block 9 – yummy Chinese donuts and fried pastries. I still remember they used to have a huge wok (鑊) to fry the donuts in front of the restaurant.

Now you can see how they dry their clothes.

Hing’s Café (興記茶餐廳) since 1970, located between my primary school 柏德學校 and Block 10

Both set breakfast and lunch have menu A, B and C to choose from.

Photo of Hing’s Café in the 70’s

Hing’s Café in the 21 century … the décor is not much different from 30 years ago.

It must be the gate to the back yard of my primary school … one time I had hot pot there during my childhood and it was an open area with no roof.

There are many unique stores in this area that can be hardly found at somewhere else – old style hair salon, Chinese style wedding gown裙褂and 紙紮舖 (hand-made paper products that sent to ancestors by fire), etc.

Back yard of my primary school

My primary school facing Ngau Tau Kok Road

Reflection of Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate (II) from the mirror of Amoy Plaza. It will soon be vanished and how many people will remember this self-sufficient community provided thousands of civilians with ideal dwellings and standard education during its golden age?