January 7, 2006
Growing up in a Chinese-American home in Chicago, my parents enjoyed listening to Chinese opera records. As the years progressed, they moved on to cassettes and then to videos. I am no expert of Chinese opera, but I have always wanted to experience a live performance. The Sunbeam Theatre (423 King’s Road at Shu Kuk Street), one of the most notable opera theaters in Hong Kong, is located two blocks from my hotel. Located in the nondescript Kiu Fai Building, the box office sells tickets for day-of-performance as well as for advance shows. The vestibule comes to life during performances with colorful posters, flowers embellishing photos of the performers, and a small shop. The theater has one level of seats, which get pricier the closer you are to the stage. The yellow curtain went up and the brash opera begins. Even if you know nothing about Chinese opera, it is a great spectacle with screechy singing and dialogue, outlandish costumes, and a bang-a-gong orchestra. It was interesting to see the old ladies migrate forward to more desirable empty seats at the first intermission! Even though there is a bit of chatter in the audience, and you can bring in your own snacks, it is still an appreciative, laid-back audience. The performance I attended was nearly three hours long, but there were several intermissions sprinkled in the mix to keep you fresh.
The little north-south street between the Ibis and the Sunbeam (Shu Kuk Street) was my personal cornucopia of Chinese riches. The KaKa Cake Shop served waves of cheap, fresh and tasty treats, so I bought my breakfast here every morning. I have eaten BBQ pork buns and egg custard tarts my entire life, and these are the best I have ever tasted because they are so fresh and warm. The Guangdong Restaurant has the quintessential ducks hanging at the window, and it is loaded with local diners. I enjoyed their BBQ pork chow mein because it is cheap (barely over 3 US dollars) and prepared the way my father used to cook it. Dessert choices include a Hui Lau Shan smoothie loaded with fruit and jelly chunks, fresh fruit from a market stall, and mango pudding from KaKa. If you are feeling adventurous, check out one of the herbal shops for medicinal soup mix or preserved ginger. Shops and stalls peddle clothing with inexpensive prices. There are also “western” outlets like 7-Eleven and Wellcome supermarket.
North Point is a good secondary transportation hub, with a bus depot (including the A11 Citybus to the airport), subway stop, ferry terminal, and tram line.
From journal Bill in China - HONG KONG