Sunday, November 05, 2006

mei foo memories

I did some substitute tutoring at a tutorial center the past two Saturdays. Besides providing me with some income, the tutoring also afforded me the opportunity to revisit the place where I spent most of my childhood -- Mei Foo Sun Chuen. My family lived in Mei Foo from 1984 to 1993, so it holds quite a lot of memories for me. And although much has changed in the 13 years since we moved, I was pleased to find that many things are just as I remember them...

One thing that struck me immediately is how small the buildings seem. In the 80s, when we moved there, Mei Foo's 20-story apartment buildings were considered quite tall for residential buildings. But now, as you can see from the picture below, they're completely dwarfed by most modern residential complexes.

And probably the biggest change can be seen in the picture below. The nice concrete wall you can see running through the middle of the picture used to separate Mei Foo from the sea! Now, thanks to the wonders of reclamation, the wall has openings that lead into a very large park. I remember coming to this area as a child. We used to watch the planes coming in and starting their descent (into Kai Tak -- also a distant memory now...), and we could look out across the water to Stone Cutter's island. Well, thanks to the reclamation, Stone Cutter's is no longer an island, it's probably just part of this park. Another random memory I have associated witht his wall is coming here for mid-autumn festival. I remember lighting candles and putting one in each cement circle in the wall. It was so pretty -- too bad it's not allowed anymore, because of the wax mess that the candles leave behind.

This next picture probably qualifies as one of the strangest I've ever posted. I was trying to capture the emptiness of this place more than any interesting features. Some of my happiest memories were spent here, because it used to be a playground! Yes, that's right -- a playground underneath a freeway, but a playground none the less! I'm sure that someone finally realized that it was a major health hazard to have young lungs breathing in a smorgasbord of carcinogens and other toxic fumes, so they got rid of the swings and sea-saws (aren't those illegal now anyway?) and fenced the whole area off. Never have I felt so compelled to burst into a Cat Stevens song. "Tell me, where do the children play?" At one of the many new playgrounds, I'm sure.
Here's is a sweet potato and roasted chestnuts vendor. The site of this little make-shift stall hit me with a wave of nostalgia. I remember when this area next to the Mei Foo bus terminus used to be full to maximum capacity with hawkers selling a variety of cooked food. This is where I developed a taste for fish balls and satay, and learned that tofu, when cooked in a certain way, smells terrible. The side walk, now clean because of the lack of vendors, used to be caked with grease and grime -- so much so that I'm sure quite a few people took a fall after underestimating the slickness of the blackened ground.

And finally, here are some stalls in the Mei Foo wet market. There 's quite a variety of stalls and small shops here now, but I remember when most if not all of these stalls sold meat. I'm sure avian flu didn't help these businesses at all, and I think a lot of people feel more comfortable buying meat from grocery stores now, even if they are theoretically sacrificing freshness.
And here are pictures of some places that I remember fondly. This will probably only be interesting to my sister, and maybe my brother (Steve, do you ever visit me here?), but that's reason enough to post them. :)

Here's the podium gate to our building. Other than the new shiny gate, it looks pretty much the same.
A podium landmark -- the "flying horse fountain." I used to go rollerskating around the podium with my sister and her friends (no, that "her" was not meant to be an "our" -- I was quite the tag-along).

Our building! I think our balcony is the fourth one up, but I'll have to check some old photos to be sure. :)

Here's a restaurant that we would get rice boxes at quite often. It's still there, and still successful. I find the name amusing. In Chinese the name means "many, many," but they translated it into English phonetically and called it Door Door.

And that brings my nostalgic ramblings to an end. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

o the memories! hk is changing way too fast. great photos...i wish i could've seen the candles. the playground under the hwy reminds me of the bball court that used to be in tai wai! wonder why they got rid of that!?? hehe

Kathrin said...

can you tell me, if the flying horse fountain (Pegasus) is still there? As far as I know, it is created by an artist of the name Antonio Casadei and to been placed in front of the Mandarin Oriental, at Statues Square. What does it say on the sign? Are there other signs with his name on it?
Kathrin (from Germany)