The Hike That Became a Food Trail

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I was in Hong Kong at the end of November and having eaten far too much good food, I insisted that Tortoise take me to the islands for a hike. To lose weight. And feel healthy.

We went to Lamma Island where there’s a trail between two ferry points, a good three hours walk. It was the season for lovely weather and this view of the old-fashioned fishing town greeted us on arrival.

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It reminded me of 1980s scenes and also vaguely of cheesy HK flicks starring Samo Hung and gang. My mum loved watching those.

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I knew that my calorie-burning quest was doomed the moment my friend started rhapsodising on the nibbles she had on her last visit. My interest piqued, I immediately perked up when she mentioned satay of some sort. Up the alley just past the sea-front restaurants, the stall had chicken parts and cuttlefish on sticks. No close-up pictures because I was too busy devouring the spicy morsel. Even though HKers generally aren’t very good with chilli, this one was pretty darn hot and my mouth was on fire.

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Tortoise promised succour in the form of taufa (tofu pudding) a bit further down the path. I think I kept whining “are we there yet?” and “can we eat at this stall instead?” as my tongue kept burning. Not long later, we saw this crowd under the tarp. It’s all so charmingly makeshift even the poster advertising its numerous media appearances looks like a primary school project.

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Tortoise and I happily sat down to our taufa and wolfed down the silken custard. I contemplated having seconds but desisted because Tortoise reminded me that there was really good pigeon down the road.

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True enough, there were plenty of signs on the way beckoning us off the straight and narrow. The hike was not to be.

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After turning off the main path, the sign became more explicit. Without a doubt, we were getting warm.

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Pigeon… Preciouuusssssssssssssss…

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After several false turns,  including one where we found ourselves in someone’s backyard and another where we were followed by someone’s overprotective dog, we finally found the place and got our roast pigeon. It was tender, flavourful and had the crispest skin ever. I would have cried tears of joy if I wasn’t wolfing down my half of the bird. Even though it was 2.30 pm, there were loads of people still coming in. One group of expats ordered a huge mound of at least six pigeons for three people!

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We rounded off the afternoon tea session with wak dan ha yun (prawns in lightly scrambled eggs) and ha cheong kai lan (Chinese kale in fermented prawn paste, a specialty of the fishing village). Even though we were quite full from our itinerant snacking, the food was to die for.  My inner Chinawoman would have been delighted to have some rice with the dishes if it were lunch, but we quite craftily saved on calories by skipping it.

We made it to the beach in just under two hours, rather than the 20 minutes we anticipated. Considering the beautiful beaches I’d been to in the past year, this one hardly counted. Some stretches of East Coast Beach in Singapore might possibly be nicer, but it was lovely to (finally) get here just before the sun started setting. Besides, the blue sky, greenery and boats out in the distance formed a pretty setting.

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We mucked about for a short while taking photos and complaining how full we were and then decided that it was too late to attempt making for the other ferry terminal.  You see, we had to meet another friend in HK for, um, tea.

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We turned back quickly, not because there wasn’t time to catch the ferry, but to get even more food. On the way back we took away a piece of tofu cheesecake and some local sweets. The glutinous rice-based sweets weren’t great, but we nibbled on some anyway. On (literally) the other hand, the tofu cheesecake was really good! Light, yet full of cheese flavour. Of course we devoured that on the ferry, and it was all gone by the time we reached HK. We then hotfooted it to Central to meet our friend for virtuous smoothies at Mix, one of those places so peppy it almost gives you a headache.

A bad day for calorie expenditure but another great day for good food.

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