消失的月光古城

周日(2014年1月12日)的新闻里香格里拉独克宗古城火光漫天,烟雾弥漫。从此,这座一千三百年历史的古城化为灰烬。 

从云南回来已经快两个星期,我总是把自己想写的东西幻想到太过鸿篇巨制,以至于不知从何开始。到达香格里拉是我行程的第四天,却犹如一个新的篇章,从丽江一路北上五个小时的盘山公路,望着窗外的蓝天,拉市海,虎跳峡,香格里拉大峡谷,白雪皑皑的雪山,这样我与小猴来到了平均海拔3300米的香格里拉县。 

由于英国作家JH的《消失的地平线》,小说中写到的Shangri-La纯净的世外桃源与风土人情成为了西方人眼中的桃花源。我们所到达的香格里拉县原名叫中甸,属于云南迪庆藏族自治州的一部分,因为香格里拉这个人人向往的名字,2001年易名香格里拉县。而仰望苍穹,漫天繁星的整个迪庆地区都可认为是广义的香格里拉地区。 

青旅的老板开着一辆北京吉普将我们接到了位于古城内的住所。远远就看到了巨大的转经筒与藏经阁,熠熠发光。夜晚的香格里拉冷风嗖嗖,石子路走上去像是我没去过的西西里岛,又像是我去过的布拉格,然而,这里是香格里拉,城里的房子多用木头搭建,晚上八点多数商铺已经关门,水管因严寒爆裂,流出来的水淌开在石子路上,很快结成冰,走上去要十分小心翼翼。整个古城像大研,像束河,像任何一个被商业化的中国古镇,曲曲折折的十字路旁开满了纪念品店,卖牦牛干,卖披肩,卖户外用品,一百块一件的冲锋衣和几十块一根的登山杖,也有一条楼台笙歌的酒吧街…… 

我想吃牦牛火锅,小猴害怕引发高原反应,结果我在这个美丽的地方的第一餐吃了平平淡淡的番茄炒蛋,店家是从来自鹤庆(大理)的白族人,我本有点小小的失望,这个地方不应该是藏族人的地盘吗?但是店家的两个女儿十分可爱,我看到姐姐的奖状,夸奖她读书好,热心的孩子妈居然拿出了妹妹的考试卷,妹妹与姐姐争相向我们讲月光广场的小河下有蜗牛,怎样抓到蜗牛。咸咸的酥油茶几乎被我一个人喝光了。第二日,我再次踩着地面尚未化去的冰,来到同一家店,尚未做好开张准备的女老板热情地让我进屋烤火,交谈中知道前几个想起这里的温度达到零下十几度,这几天已经好转太多。已经叫了青稞饼吃,见人家的米线好吃,大姐居然坚持让我再吃点她的米线,我坐在他们厨房的火炉旁,吃着青稞饼,(当然老板告诉我很多外地人吃不惯青稞,这其实是黑乔饼,擅长厨艺的大理人还加了两个鸡蛋进去,吃起来绵绵软软,好似蛋糕。)冷到麻木的手搭在炉子上,一杯一杯地喝着人家的热水,我觉得就像我的小时候。 

“独克宗”在藏语中包含两层意思,一为“建在石头上的城堡”,另为“月光城”。条条巷巷的石子小径不负石头城堡的美称。月光广场上的白鸽时而慵懒地走在广场,时而低空飞过,太阳慢慢聚集热量,洒向这座古朴又时刻变化的古城。广场上有巨大的转经筒,我去了对面的喇嘛庙烧了一炷香,见到一位身着红衣的大妈,手捻佛珠,喃喃诵经,一圈一圈围着喇嘛庙走下去,我跟在她身后走了三圈,却难得她平静与执着。 

看顾城曾经失望地说过,北京已经不是一座城,而是一个市。那时我才意识到,原来城与市,相去甚远。城是有灵魂的,有历史的,有故事的,有各种善良的,奸诈的,真诚的,伪装的人,勇敢的,胆小的,虔诚的,祈祷的人。城中有市,熙熙攘攘,你为利来,他为利往。我在想,云南的很多古城,如独克宗,都曾是滇藏高原茶马古道上的重镇,曾经迎着南来北往的商人,圣洁如独克宗,也接受来自各方朝拜的圣徒。只要市还没有侵蚀过城,他们都是有灵魂的的城。 

我就这样缅怀一下这座高原之城,月光之城,而今,已是记忆之城。

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Smart book shelf

I just moved to a new place from the vast New Territory to Kowloon. My new room, in an apartment I share with some other girls, is extraordinarily tiny. I almost only sleep in the room as small as the bathroom of the apartment I used to live with my parents, for the rest of the time, I was either staying in the office or the library, luckily, I work in a library, or just loafing around the streets being by myself in a place I don’t know, surrounded by people I don’t recognize and to whom I mean nothing.

However, today I was suddenly reminded of an old hobby – calligraphy. I bought writing brush and ink slab in a store I saw the other day during a random walk. When I got back home, I realized doing calligraphy was such luxury for the tiny room I rent. The mini desk the landlord provided was piled with some of my books, a laptop, some documents and flyers from the Legislative Council candidates. I was never a tidy person and tend to leave all the insignificant stuff with me, such like chocolate wrapper, envelops with promotion ads sent from the credit card company among others.

Actually I had suggested the landlord help me get a book shelf on the wall so that I could save more space for the desk. Though happily having said no problem, for more than half a month, he did not act like there was no problem. I guess I was really annoying with calls and Emails, he finally said that I should find a book shelf myself and he would pay for it. But still, a book shelf for such a narrow wall was indeed hard to find.

When cornered with no option, I have to make a bookshelf myself with the shoeboxes I didn’t bother to throw away.

Here is how I did it:

Step one:  Measure the space and see the length you want the paper shelf to fit in, then cut the right paper.

Step two: Enhance the  folded part with more paper.

Step three: Fit into the space, oh, I also had brad nail on the wall to fix the shelf.

Step four: Not too many books, it may crash! Now I get some space for my calligraphy practice! 

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East end of the island

BY ALICE ZHAO

HONG KONG - Lying at the east end of the urban area of Hong Kong Island next to Shau Kei Wan, Chai Wan (Chinese: 柴灣) is mosaic of industrial and residential concretes. I took my first walk in this area with a friend last Saturday in this place. I arrived in a torrent of rains, the sky was clad in grey, the area features the old, tore warehouses still in its function, with trucks, boxes patching up along the street.

First look of Chai Wan outside the MTR station overlooking the bus station. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Old and new (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Boxes piling up at the corner of a street. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Prominent is the Farrari. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Wasted paper and hardware collection. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

A dazed isolation. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Time of calculation. (Photo: Alice Zhao) 

 

One of the most frequent scenes in Hong Kong. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Residential area hide behind the warehouses.(Photo: Alice Zhao)

Uniform. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

A factory makes bullet-proof glass for the banks and other clients. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

An outdoor restaurant in the alley. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

passer-by. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Hong Concrete. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

Right across the bowl we dash, see the bubbles emanate.(Photo: Alice Zhao)

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Power sees growth

BY ALICE ZHAO

HONG KONG – Power Assets Holdings Ltd.(0006.HK) posts another record interim results with net profit rising 6.8 percent to HK$4.333 billion, mainly driven by overseas operations.
HK business net slid 1.5 percent to HK$1.75 billion, while the rest surged 13.4 percent to HK$2.579 billion. Earnings outside Hong Kong represents 60 percent of the company’s total profit.
The electricity supplier pays 62 HK cents of interim dividend, same as last year.
Revenue rose 4.67 percent to HK$4.90 billion from HK$4.68 billion
Hong Kong electric unit sales were 3.4 percent higher to 5.20 billion kWh, with commercial sector accounting for 74.2 percent of the units sold, residential sector 22.8 percent and industrial sector 3 percent.
Apart from Hong Kong, the utility and infrastructure company controlled by tycoon Li Ka-shing has interests in electricity distribution in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, power generation facilities in mainland China, UK, Thailand and Canada, and a gas distribution network in the UK.
It’s peer in Hong Kong, CLP Holdings Ltd. (0002.HK),  warned that its financial result in 2012 will be adversely impacted by lost generating capacity and the cost of maintenance work earlier this month.
Power Asset supplies power to Hong Kong island, while CLP Holdings., Hong Kong’s biggest power provider, supplies Kowloon and the New Territories.
Shares of Power Asset rose by 1.18 percent, closing at HK$60 yesterday. CLP was also up 1.14 percent at HK$66.
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Mainland students remember Tiananmen in HK

BY ALICE ZHAO

Candlelight vigil in Victoria Park. (Photo: Alice Zhao)

HONG KONG – For the first time in his life, Alex Wu, a mainland student studying in Hong Kong, joined a public event to mourn the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square 23 years ago, together with 180,000 others in China’s last Mecca for freedom of speech in Victoria Park’s candlelight vigil Monday night.

According to organizer Hong Kong Alliance, a record turnout of 180,000 attended the vigil. The crowds occupied six soccer fields, basketball courts and grass areas, waving candles as the speeches and songs from the stage going on. Thousands more stood outside the off-roped park.

Fang Zheng, activist survived the crackdown in 1989 but lost his legs as the tank crushed over, appeared in wheelchair. Fang said he was so glad Hong Kong citizen are striving for freedom while the central government adopted the high-pressure policy in the mainland.

Student leader Wang Dan in 1989’s demonstration told the audience from a recorded message that she believes Hong Kong people’s insistence will one day pay off as the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed after years of struggle.

There was also voice from the Tiananmen Mothers Group sending gratitude for Hong Kong’s efforts to speak for the murdered, poisoned and expelled.

China doesn’t allow mainland events to commemorate the crackdown, even words like “1989“, “candlelight” remain taboo on the Internet for the particular time.

Wu went to Victoria Park with seven of his mainland friends, arriving early to secure the first row near the stage. They sat, stood, and clapped as they mourned, sang and shout for democracy for China.

Wu accumulated his “limited knowledge” over the Tiananmen crackdown by talking with friends, and sometimes breaking off the Great Fire Wall browsing information he may not access otherwise.

“I know such a thing happened, and the government hid a lot of facts,” Wu said that is all he knows about the June Fourth Incident, as it is sometimes whispered referred in the mainland.

Wu said the crackdown might help to gain the stability for the government at a particular time, but it nearly destroyed the hope of citizen society in China. “After that mainland Chinese just joined the silent majority with a sense of cynicism, indifferent to politics,” said Wu.

“I was profoundly touched. I’m sure they already knew most of the background stuff, but they actually bothered to join in still to get the ‘feel’,” said Hong Kong journalist and politician Claudia Bowring. Bowring witnessed the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square as the Beijing correspondent for Agence France-Presse in 1989.

A former reporter with a Chinese stated-owned newspaper at site when the crackdown happened, now a lecturer in a Hong Kong university, suggested students from the mainland to grasp the chance of living in Hong Kong to read more about different descriptions of the incident.

“It was such a complicated incident, students should read comprehensively, think critically, and observe by themselves to understand the incident,” said the lecturer. He listed memoirs by Li Peng(who used his authority as Premier to declare martial law after students demonstration in 1989), Zhao Ziyang( President of China in 1989 , who later was purged politically and placed under house arrest for the next 15 years), as wells as the books by expelled students leaders and activists.

Coming back from the vigil, Wu tried to share the Hong Kong spirit with friends in the mainland through Sina Weibo, a popular social network in China similar to Twitter. A picture with a T-shirt printing “Not willing to remember, not daring to forget” was soon blocked by the system.

“Sina Weibo and Renren has a severe restriction about ‘Tiananmen incident’ this year, even if I told the fact that I was born in 1989, 23 years old,” said Wu.

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Images of the fresh market

As a paradise for shopping, Hong Kong never disappoints any customers. As new malls spring up and gush out in the most heated plazas, the old-fashioned fresh markets never fade away, though it sometimes stinks, smells, but it appears in every community of Hong Kong, making this city diversified, tolerant, and alive.

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A farewell to Hong Kong’s Hot Dog Buses

BY ALICE ZHAO

Hot Dog bus will retire by May, 9th, 2012. (Photo: Willy Ho)

HONG KONG - Hot Dog, nickname for “non air-conditioned buses” in Hong Kong, will disappear from the city forever as the last series of the old buses of Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) will retire this Wednesday.

No. 5A, 16, 93K, 98A, the last batch of “hot dogs” (S3V), will reach the 17-year legal age limit of franchised bus in Hong Kong and  are required to stop revenue-earning service by law, marking an end to the iconic Hong Kong Hot Dogs.

Until KMB received their first air-conditioned double decker bus (Leyland Olympian 11m, fleet number AL1) in 1988, all franchised buses running in Hong Kong were non air-conditioned.

As the trial of the first air-con bus in the Colony was deemed successful, KMB started ordering air-con buses in a larger scale.

Last decades have witnessed the hot debate over global warming, which accelerated the change for Hong Kong buses. Being the typical monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate, Hong Kong has an average temperature of 25℃ in summer, the maximum goes beyond 35℃. High temperature with still air flow inside the Hot Dogs triggered heat stroke of several bus divers every year.

After the arrival of 30 Volvo Olympian non air-con buses (S3V) in 1995, KMB ceased purchasing non air-con buses.

After the long service in the Asian world city, the Hot Dog’s received massive melancholy of farewell from Hong Kong citizen. Online forums are flooding with passenger’s nostalgia. You may be interested to have a glimpse of the buses once running in the bustle, which soon become history.

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