Calanders, reflection, and Ramadan in Sidi Bou Said

2014-07-07 23.44.51

Every now and again events conspire to make one realise that what is taken for granted is actually not so stable or certain.  I frequently have encounters with time that make this real for me.  My most recent experience occurred on a trip I took to Tunisia, where the certainty of the calendar and what constitutes the start of a year was called into question. The Georgian calendar (the one used as the global civil calendar) will for many of us be taken for granted as the way to structure time, yet it does not map onto the cultures and traditions of the majority of the world’s population, and upon reflection I realise only has partial influence upon how I consider my own year.   Through the experience of a collision of calendars one can sometimes also be afforded the chance to consider and reflect on the gifts of serendipitous circumstance, as I was when my personal calendar, the muslim calendar, and assumptions I made based on the Georgian calendar all came together.   Continue reading

Hong Kong: Markets walking tour from Central to Sheung Wan

Update:  We tried this walking tour on our latest visit to Hong Kong. Some of the way finding landmarks are now no longer there, please be aware of this if you try to do the tour.

This walking tour starts at Central and travels west toward Sheung Wan. The tour takes in Fa Yuen Streets, Central Market, the Mid Level Escalator, Graham Street Market, Gough Street, Cat Street Market, Sheung Wan Market, Western Market and ends at the Sheung Wan MTR station.

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Curves that circle round

Incense burning in a small temple, Hong Kong Mid-Levels

Incense burning in a temple, Hong Kong

The smell of incense always brings me up short and evokes a Proustian moment that causes me pause.  The smell of incense will always be Hong Kong in my mind.   The sweet, heavy odour is encountered in accidental moments throughout the city as there are large and small temples, some so small they are just depressions outside a door, all over the city.  Incense gives a home to the ghosts of elders, freeing up domestic space for good fortune.  It also gives thanks for gifts bestowed by gods and is offered in anticipation of future benefit.  As such it’s circular form is also a mechanism through which time can curve back upon itself.

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Every taste a new experience

Ding Ding
While the impression one gets of Hong Kong as expressed through the landscape images of its skyline is one of hyper-modernity, there is an ordinary side of the city which is not frame-able in dialectal understandings of pre-modern and modern, nor is it reducible to the visual cleanliness and cool sterility that the global city image tries to convey.  Indeed the production of the Global City image in its attempt to produce spectacle, erases the everyday and the people involved in producing that everyday. In doing so that which makes the city magnificent is also erased.  Continue reading

Visiting Hong Kong–Things I would do if I were coming to visit.

One reader of GeoFoodie.Org recently told me she was planning a trip to Hong Kong and asked if I had any recommendations for what to do. This is always difficult, because what I like to do might not be what other people like to do. But if I were coming to Hong Kong here is what I would seek out first–and more or less in this order…

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Looks great, but the smell…


IMG_0670When I first saw these wrapped in plastic, for sale in the market, I though they were candies. Chewy candies. The deep orange colour looked like a promise of tartness. Later, as  I walked through the village of Tai O, I saw this basket sitting on a white table out in the sun. Full of salt and fresh egg yolks, I realised that what I saw was not candies at all.  Unappetising now, the flies buzzing around make them seem even less so.  I am told, however, that my prejudices are wrong. These things that I struggle to think of as food are according to some “quite good”. Continue reading