Saturday wanderings ...

Ever since our glorious Saturday two weeks ago, hiking Lamma Island, Matt and I have renewed our commitment to spend Saturdays getting out of Hong Kong and exploring the myriad islands, country parks, and fishing villages that make up this SAR (special administrative region). 

This past Saturday the plan was to explore Cheung Chau, a small, bone-shaped island home to noticeably cleaner air (thanks to the lack of motorized vehicles), a bun festival (along with 60-foot towers made of buns and bun-tower-climbing competitions, no less), and this sweet little cafe.  But alas, a week of rain with thunderstorms forecast forced us to reconsider and we ended up at the Art Museum across the harbor and the YMCA buffet lunch--not a bad trade by any measure, especially considering we still got a ferry ride.

I have to admit the trip to the Art Museum was done with somewhat of a sense of obligation, as if it was something we needed to cross off our list and get over with. Chinese antiquities have just never been my thing, nor the landscape paintings so typical of Chinese art. Not knowing what it would be like to have along a 12-month-old only added to the hesitation, though admittedly Finn gave us every reason to walk quickly through the galleries.

But as it turned out, we regretted having to move so quickly, finding plenty of beauty to feed our souls and plenty of provocation to stir up our brains. Some highlights:

--a special exhibit of Ding Yanyong. His calligraphy was breath-taking, and we really loved the playful one-stroke paintings of animals.  (the cat on the exhibit poster is an example of this.)

--an exhibit of The New Literati, Chinese painters from the 1990's. The paintings were so narrative, they captured our imaginations and fairly begged us to spin out stories for them. Not to mention that the guard in this gallery fell in love with Finn, and in fact took him in her arms, showing him off to the other guards, allowing us to enjoy the paintings in peace.

--an interactive exhibit of new Hong Kong artists, with plenty for Finn to touch, hear and watch. Our favorites were a living room set (sofa, coffeetable and bookshelf) that turn into a coffin, and a collection of mail boxes, with recordings inside of the neighborhood sounds from which the boxes were taken.

for the living ... 
For the living ...

and the dead. 
For the dead.

the retro mail-boxes. aren't they cool? 
I want to find one for my wall!

 After lunch we met our friend Tuan at the Y for a buffet lunch.  At last, experiencing one of Hong Kong's famous buffets, in a more affordable venue than the next-door Peninsula Hotel, with the same view (or the same lack of view, considering how foggy the harbor was.) (And actually, I have, rather accidentally, experienced one of these buffets before. Early last fall, I was invited to tea with some other mums, and I naively thought we'd be going to Starbucks. Instead, we ended up at the Hyatt for their string-quartet-accompanied afternoon tea buffet. It was gorgeous and lovely and elegant and I tried to eat as much as I could while still playing it cool, as if spending $300 HK on tea were perfectly normal for me ...)       

 The highlight of the evening was finding this lovely little cafe--Afterschool--the type of artsy, quirky spot we feared didn't exist here in ultra-modern, materialist Hong Kong. Not that there aren't plenty of lovely places, but they all tend to have matching furniture and perfect light fixtures and are beautiful in a new, well-designed way. But this place had old, scratched wood floors, discarded flip-top school desks for furniture, and even a table made out of an old door. With no street-level sign, the place felt private and totally anachronistic in the middle of Causeway Bay, HK's shopping district. When we first got there, they told us that they'd be turning off the lights at 8:30 in order to participate in the worldwide Earth Hour. Though I was so heartened that someone in HK was participating, I did wonder how we would be able to play cards, journal or read, the intended activities of the night. We needn't have worried--we hardly even noticed when they turned out the lights, since SO MUCH spilled though from the street.  Afterschool truly was a beacon, or in this case, an anti-beacon, in the night.

The only signage.

Nice picture, huh?  Matt took it.

Aah, Swarvoski. The only thing missing from our night was a stop in that venerable institution.  oh wait, I mean ...

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