There would certainly have been a mutiny on this Bounty …

3 08 2010

One of the many things that I looked forward to on this Hong Kong trip was the chance to board the Bounty, a tall ship which is in fact, a replica of the Bounty, infamous for the mutiny led by a certain Fletcher Christian. The mutiny which would have been construed as an act of disobedience not just against the authority of the ship’s commanding officer, Captain William Bligh, but also an act against the Crown, resulted in some of the surviving mutineers setting up a settlement on hitherto uninhabited Pitcairn Island and setting the original Bounty aflame to escape detection. By this unintended twist of fate, the group of islands that Pitcairn is in, has somehow become Britain’s last surviving colony in the Pacific. While we were certainly not in for this level of heart stopping excitement on the present replica of 1978 vintage (in fact this is the second replica built), it was for me, still something to look forward to, as I would do for any opportunity to visit a tall ship.

The Bounty, a second replica of the original, seen in full sail in Victoria Harbour (image courtesy of Hong Kong Resort Company Limited)

Tall ships are one of those things that I have always approached with the awe and fascination of a child. Captivated by the magnificent sight of tall ships in full sail from images seen in photographs and in the movies, and in part, drawn to the silhouette of a brig in the Old Spice brand of men’s toiletries that were popular back when I was growing up, I have long hoped to be able to sail on one, and work her sails. I guess the opportunity somehow never presented itself, and so, the next best thing for me was to attempt to visit one whenever I could. I managed a visit to one earlier this year, when the fastest tall ship, the STS Pallada, a Russian merchantmen training ship called to port in Singapore, and so it was very nice that I have a second opportunity this year, not just to board one, but also stay on her for a cruise around Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, albeit not with sails for practical reasons, but by her diesel power.

The figurehead of the new Bounty (image courtesy of the Hong Kong Resort Company Limited).

This replica of the Bounty that is in Hong Kong, was built in New Zealand in 1978 for the movie “The Bounty”, which starred Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins and was released in 1983. This would have been the same ship I had wanted to go onboard during a visit to Sydney some years back, but not having had the time, decided to give it a miss. This Bounty has, since 2007, been in the service of the Hong Kong Resort Company Limited, a company which operates the Discovery Bay Resort on Lantau Island at which the Bounty is based.

The bounty coming in to Central Pier 9 as the sun sets on Hong Kong.

A close-up of the stern.

The replica is not constructed of wood as one might think, being constructed of steel and clad in wood to give an authentic feel. While not as imposing as the Pallada which has a 49.5 metre tall main mast and measures some 106 metres (sparred), the 42 metre replica does have a spacious deck which measures 30 metres in length and 7 metres in width, and in the shadow of the rigging of the main mast which towers some 33 metres above deck, and the two other masts, the visitor is offered a very unique experience onboard. This makes the Bounty an ideal location for the use for which she has been put to. The Bounty is in fact available for charter for events such as corporate entertainment, private functions, harbour cruises, training activities etc, for which information is available at the Bounty’s website.

The main mast of the Bounty rises some 33 metres above deck.

The main mast holding its own against the IFC tower in the background.

The dinner cruise we had boarded the Bounty for, started from Central Pier 9, and it was a treat to stand by the wharf side and watch the magnificent vessel come in. Assisted onboard by the helpful crew, we were greeted by the sight of the expansive sheathed wooden deck, and the web of ropes and tackle along the gunwale that ran up to the masts. This, along with authentic looking fittings on deck as well as cannons lined up along the ship’s sides added a feel that we were going to have an adventure on the high seas, as it might have been for Fletcher Christian and his shipmates, sans the uncomfortable motions that might have come with the wind and the waves that in all probability have accompanied the voyage.

Blocks and tackle by the gunwale.

More rigging and tackle ...

While we may not have sailed the seven seas, the cruise around the harbour wasn’t without exotic sights. There were four to begin with, the lovely ladies in our group, who had a makeover with Celia Wong, a well known Hong Kong based stylist. While this would probably not have sparked a mutiny today, this would certainly have sparked a mutiny of a different kind in the days of Christian and Bligh, and might in all probability, have not just those loyal to Captain Bligh, but the Captain himself, join the mutineers! I guess with the company of pretty ladies, the spectacular night time views of the famous Hong Kong and Kowloon skyline, and the treat of the Symphony of Lights, was an added bonus.

Three of the four lovely ladies who might have set off a mutiny ... from left to right: Gin Oh, Violet Lim, Elaine Chua.

and here's the fourth ... Ms Ang Geck Geck ...


The company of the four lovely ladies was complemented by the magnificent views of Hong Kong and Kowloon from the harbour.

Dining on the deck was certainly a very pleasant experience. The light breeze that accompanied the cruising vessel which charted a course around the harbour made what was a balmy evening very pleasing and enjoyable. We had an opportunity to also inspect the accommodation below decks in the forward mess. An attempt has also been made to recreate the living spaces where perhaps the senior rates might have lived in. Going down through the hatch and stairway, it is probably hard to imagine conditions that may have existed on the actual ship where there would have been men tired and worn from their battles with the sea resting on what are now empty berths, right next to where livestock would have been kept during the early part of the voyage to provide the hungry men with fresh meat. Standing by the two tiered wooden bunks that lined up against the sides and centreline in the warm incandescent glow of light reflected off the lacquer of the wooden bunks and wall panels, I somehow could imagine that, and for a while I allowed myself to be transported to the original Bounty as she pitched and rolled to the rhythm of the violent sea, the creaking of timbers that strained as she rode over the waves, the bleating of goats, and the shouts of rowdy men fuelled by the contents of the wooden casks that lay on the deck, combining in a disconsolate tune. But it was only for a brief moment … the trance that I seem to momentarily be in, broken by the sight of one of the pretty ladies descending the stairway.

Dining on the deck of the Bounty.

Crew accommodation below decks.

Bunks in the old style with a modern watertight door.

The table in the mess.

Ms Ang came down for an inspection of the crews' quarters.

Back on deck, the rest of the cruise in the glow of the bright lights of Hong Kong’s wonderful harbour in the excellent company of my fellow bloggers somehow made the evening pass like a flash, and before we knew it, the evening onboard had sadly come to an end, and it was time to bid farewell to the beautiful Bounty. As we disembarked on to the pier at Tsim Sha Tsui in the glow of the clock tower, a crowd had gathered, seemingly to gawk at the magnificent vessel … but thinking about it, it might have actually been that word had got out that she was delivering her cargo of the four pretty ladies … and it was at them that the crowd were gawking at.

The spectacle of the Symphony of Lights and the beautiful Hong Kong skyline is seen through the rigging of the Bounty.

The view of Hong Kong's magnificent skyline by night was a treat!

Alvin seemed to want to participate in the ongoing Symphony of Lights!

The dance of lights on Hong Kong's skyline.

Some of the excellent company onboard ...


More night time views of the magnificent Hong Kong skyline from the Bounty.

Tsim Sha Tsui's historic clock tower (1915) ... the last remnant of the Kowloon Railway Station.

More views off and on the Bounty …

The ship's bell.

The bowsprit and figure head.

The fore deck.

View through the rope work towards Hong Kong Island.

The compass and helm.

Part of the ship's rigging ...

More of the ship's rigging.

The figure head seen from the fore deck.


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.

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Where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong

29 07 2010

One of the must-dos for any visitor to Hong Kong is to catch the slow boat across the Victoria Harbour. The Star Ferry, aptly named as the ferry service is one of the “stars” of the fragrant harbour, connects Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories on the mainland, providing a vital link that served as the main link across Victoria Harbour before the Cross Harbour Tunnel was completed in 1972. These days, the MTR offers the most efficient means of getting across the harbour to those travelling on the public transport, and one can be whisked across in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the nine minute ferry ride (not including waiting time), or being stuck in traffic, but there is really nothing like the laid back old world experience of making the crossing in a charming green and white ferry boat.

Star Ferries at Tsim Sha Tsui Pier. One painted in festive colours for the Dragon Boat Carnival is seen with one in the traditional green and white.

Star Ferries at Tsim Sha Tsui Pier. One painted in festive colours for the Dragon Boat Carnival is seen with one in the traditional green and white.

A Star Ferry against the backdrop of Hong Kong Island.

A Star Ferry against the backdrop of Hong Kong Island.

Up the stairs to the Upper Deck at Tsim Sha Tsui. The more expensive upper deck provides good views of the harbour.

Up the stairs to the Upper Deck at Tsim Sha Tsui. The more expensive upper deck provides good views of the harbour.

Tokens can be purchased at vending machines at the pier, or if you have the exact fare, you may proceed straight to the turnstiles.

Tokens can be purchased at vending machines at the pier, or if you have the exact fare, you may proceed straight to the turnstiles.

Turnstiles at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Turnstiles at Tsim Sha Tsui.

I suppose, I can be accused of being biased in stating this, having throughout much of my life had a fascination for ships, particularly old ships, and I guess taking a ride on any ferry for that matter is something I would always make a point of doing and something that I would not tire of. The ones with some of history in them can especially be irresistible: Wiseman’s Ferry being one of them, perhaps partly for that bit of nostalgia for the river crossings of old, and the Penang Ferry being another. Ferries often provide not just a means to get across a body of water, but a means to take the sights in: the Staten Island Ferry provides an excellent vantage from which the green lady we know as Liberty can be photographed, and the ferries running across Sydney Harbour which provide an economical way to take in the sights of the Sydney’s magnificent harbour in. It is in fact the Star Ferry that offers all of that, if not much more: history, nostalgia, a means to get across the harbour, and magnificent views of the harbour and the Hong Kong’s and Tsim Sha Tsui’s spectacular skyline … and a first hand feel of how the masses of people were (and still are) moved across the harbour.

The Ferry Time Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/)

The Ferry Time Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/)

The Fare Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/). The Star Ferry provides a cheap means to take the sights of the spectacular harbour in.

The Fare Table (source: http://www.starferry.com.hk/). The Star Ferry provides a cheap means to take the sights of the spectacular harbour in.

Indeed, the nine minute ride on the Star Ferry, which the National Geographic Traveler magazine had identified as one of 50 places of a lifetime in 1999, provides not just a means to cross the harbour which would perhaps be more efficiently traversed on the MTR, but offers an experience that is unique to Hong Kong. It is on the ferry where one can mingle with a Hong Kong rush that comes to a standstill, forced to slow to a pace that is in keeping with the old world that the ferries seem to take one back to. It is on the ferry that tourists and locals, people from all walks of life on the move, can pause for a while, where faces are no longer faces that are blurred by motion, but faces that are to be observed.

Taking in the beautiful sights of Victoria Harbour.

Taking in the beautiful sights of Victoria Harbour.

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A team of Dragon Boaters returning to the island after the races on 25 July.

A team of Dragon Boaters returning to the island after the races on 25 July.

Based on information on the Star Ferry’s website, the ferry traces its origins to 1880 when a Parsee cook, Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala, began a ferry service across Victoria Harbour using a steamboat named the Morning Star. By 1888, the Kowloon Ferry Company as it was known as then, ran the a regular 40-minute to one-hour trip, through the day, stopping only on Mondays and on Fridays for coaling of the steamboats to be accomplished. By 1890, four single-deck Star Ferries were operating, and double deck ferries were later introduced to cope with the increasing demand. These days the service is run like clockwork utilising ferries that are very much still old world in appearance, the fleet having been built in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving visitors with a piece of Hong Kong that is very much the old Hong Kong that has survived the onslaught of the fast paced world we see today.

Sights in and around the Star Ferry and the terminal


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Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.





It’s hard to remain dry with a model in the tub!

27 07 2010

I guess that was what Pete found out, much to the dismay of his cheering fans ashore in Sunday’s Media Bath Tub Race that was held at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, part of the weekend’s highlight, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival. The exciting race, which saw the team from the Philippines winning, also featured two teams representing omy.sg, one with Pete and model Ang Geck Geck, and the other with Darren and Violet, who eventually came in a close second to the team from the Philippines.

Screaming girls cheering for Aussie Pete?

Not cheering for Pete as Pete might have imagined. A face amongst the thousands of fans who had gathered to scream at the sight of the KBS dream team.

There were literally thousands of screaming fans gathered for the race, and as Pete would have it, they would have been rooting for him in the race. Having made all the necessary preparations in the run up to the race, the two teams from omy.sg were expected to do fairly well, and based on the strategies that were discussed by the repective teams, it seemed like the teams had everything worked out.

The KBS dream team included members of boyband U-KISS with the very popular Alexander.

The race started with the blast of a horn, and from the vantage point of the media cordon amongst the very large numbers that had turned out, as it turned out, to greet the Korean Dream team from the KBS network which included U-KISS with the popular Alexander, who were taking part in an international media networks race (and not disappointingly for Pete, Pete and Geck Geck – although I must say that both have got star qualities). As the race progressed, the clumsily fashioned “bathtubs” laboured their way forward to the almighty efforts of the teams of two that seemed to want to have their bathtubs capsize with every stroke of the paddle, and midway through the race, spectators got more than what they had bargained for as with a big stroke of the paddle, Pete had put his weight to the starboard side and while not as graceful as the dolphins in Ocean Park, the sight of Pete and Geck Geck falling into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour appeared to be graceful and choreographed (hmm, maybe it was staged). The incident was greeted not in stunned silence, but with a big roar from the crowd … and any fears for the safety of the two was quickly proved to be unfounded by the quick appearance of the rescue parties (maybe it was the pretty damsel in distress that they were all concerned with).

The moment it happened, it did appear to have been a carefully choreographed move.

Into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour went Pete and the model.

Hey, wait a minute ... they seem to be having fun!

Rescuers were quickly on the scene ... perhaps more concerned with the pretty model.

The rescue.

I guess it was certainly a blast for the participants in the race, as it was for the fans who caught a glimpse of their KBS heroes, and for us bloggers to have had a chance to soak in the atmosphere of a dragon boating event in the very home of Dragon Boat racing as we know it today. The race also featured teams made up of breast cancer survivors and their supporters in which a team from Singapore, the Pink Spartans won.

Darren and Violet paddled their way to second place.

The soaking wet pair after being rescued from their bathtub adventures.

Even the buoys seemed to give Pete and Geck Geck a perfect 10!


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.





Day 1 in Hong Kong and it looks like Pete and Geck Geck got a head start on Darren and Violet!

24 07 2010

Arriving in Hong Kong after what was for me an eventful preparation for the much anticipated trip to Hong Kong, which included having the drama of not being able to find my passport and warnings on the weather in the wake of Typhoon Chanthu which made landfall in Guangdong on the previous day, it was nice to first be greeted with sunny skies instead of the wet and windy weather I had anticipated, and then by the gorgeous hotel room in the Mira Hotel where we are being put up in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

For the few of us who had decided to follow on the optional programme put up for us by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the first day started with afternoon tea at the hotel, followed by a visit to the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival and the accompanying Cross-over concert, and culminated in the highlight of the day – a sumptous feast at the charming busy suzie Japanese restuarant.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

In getting to the opening ceremony, we took a detour to the Avenue of the Stars, where the very amusing Aussie Pete, the author of the best “What the Hell” blog category at the 2010 Singapore Blog Awards, managed to not only survey the route for Sunday’s bathtub race in which he is partnering the petite Geck Geck, the author of the best Modelling blog who was also with us, but also get his picture taken with Jackie Chan! Peter even got his hands on the paddle during the day’s events – Geck Geck too, which will become apparent further on in this post. I guess that you can say now that Pete and Geck Geck hold an unfair advantage over the other competitors – and besides, with their relative sizes, the bathtub would be loaded in a way it might actually plane (as in a planing boat)!

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

The opening ceremony and concert was graced by the appearance of Sherman Chung, a popular cantopop artiste and U-Kiss – a Korean boyband which, one the evidence of the many screaming fans who had come, popular with teenage girls in Hong Kong – not surprising I suppose, as amongst the members of U-Kiss, is the (I guess some would consider) cute Alexander who apparently has a Hong Kong father and a Korean mother and also speaks Cantonese.

The Hong King Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

and more screams!

and more screams!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Leaving the concert and with it the blast of great music and screaming girls which had my ears ringing for a while, we then made our way on foot through the busy streets of Tsim Sha Tsui towards busy suzie’s – but not before Pete was grateful to be finally able to find what he had been looking for several hours earlier.

Aussie Pete's saviour!

Aussie Pete's saviour!

The restaurant is located at former lighthouse building which is now part of the very charming 1881 Heritage complex, a mix of Victorian styled buildings which once were used as the Marine Police headquarters, a lighhouse and a fire-station. The complex was opened last year and also features a very exclusive boutique hotel, housed in Hulett House, which we were informed, had only six lavish suites and is booked up to as far ahead as November.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

busy suzie, a robatayaki restaurant named after an intended play on the word “Lazy Susan” to reflect the unique style of serving food robata style in which wooden paddles are used by the chefs seated in front of diners to pass the dishes which are prepared on the spot to them. This practice is said to have originated in the simple beach resturants of Sendai in northern Japan where Robatayaki traces its origins to, where fishermen cooked their catch over an open fire with only a boat oar to use. The layout of the restaurant is unique in itself, being arranged in a circular fashion and features a curved lounge bar and seating arrangements which is set in a modern contemporary fashion that is in keeping with the restaurant’s intended theme of old cusine served fusion style.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

and wonderful decor!

and wonderful decor!

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

I must say the overall dining experience was really something to remember. We were provided with a superb selection of food exquisitely prepared by chef Iwagami Yoshiaki, which certainly went down very smoothly in the company of the HKTB’s representatives, the omy representatives and my fellow bloggers. With this it was back to the very nice hotel room, a soak in the bath and some long awaited rest to recharge for a second day packed with some more exciting events lined up for us by the HKTB.

A Robata chef at work.

A Robata chef at work.

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San.

Iwagami San.

Hands on the paddle.

Hands on the paddle.

A selection of the food as it was served:

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And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...

And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.