Monday, 30 March 2020

unusual relationship examined

I don’t usually post any puzzles around this time, but I thought that if you’re stuck at home under some kind of lockdown and you’re bored stupid, then you might like to wrap your brain around my latest concoctions.

What is the connection between the following five words?
ADVENT  DEPART  MANIC  OVERT  PAST
There might well be several ways in which you can connect these words, but the correct solution also allows you to determine that one of these words can also be described as the odd one out, based on the connection criterion that you have used to link the five words.

Here’s a similar puzzle. In other words, can you identify the connection between the following five words, and on the basis of that connection, the odd one out?
MYTH  PATH  TAUT  THE  TOP
Only logic opens gate? Yes!
*  *  *

If you found the above puzzles reasonably easy, then you might like to try the following:

What’s the Connection?
Out of Order #2
Rhyme Cryme
A Rotten English Question
A Light-hearted Question
…French and
Four Play

Only the first three have been solved by readers to date.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

on the (heritage) trail

When we moved to a village a short distance east of Fanling in 2008, it didn’t take me long to notice that the Leung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail ran through the place. I thought I could see what it was about. After all, the centrepiece of the village is Kun Lung Wai (wai is Cantonese for ‘walled enclosure’):


I’d heard of Kam Tin, a walled village in the west of the New Territories, but I’d assumed that it was well known because it was a singular example of such structures. Naturally, therefore, I was surprised to find an even finer example right on my doorstep! And when we walked south to the next village (San Uk), there were a few traditional houses:



…but I thought then that that was it! Actually, the second photo shows the rear of the Shin Shut Study Hall, but I didn’t know what a study hall was at the time.

This state of ignorance persisted until 2012. I always used to return to Hong Kong on a Friday, so that we could go out cycling the following day—Paula was still working then. At the end of our ride, we always went to Sun Ming Yuen, which at that time was still located in a shopping mall next to Fanling station, for yam char—it’s now located in a shopping mall within easy walking distance of our house. Afterwards, we followed the cycle track that runs parallel to Sha Tau Kok Road to the point where we would usually turn left (north) to reach our village.

On the spur of the moment, however, we decided to find out whether there was anything to see to the south. We might have stayed on the roads, but we spotted another cyclist ahead who was about to follow a narrow path, which I’ve described subsequently in The Eastern Descent (in the opposite direction). We followed the cyclist until the path finally emerged onto a road, and we’d arrived at the entrance to Tung Kok Wai:


This is a photograph that I took at the time. You can see immediately that the walls are nowhere near as impressive as those of Kun Lung Wai, but at least we’d discovered something new.

However, nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see as we continued. I’d once watched an item on the local TV news about an ancestral hall, and as with my erroneous assumption about Kam Tin, I’d thought that it was something exceptional. I was totally gobsmacked when I saw what lay ahead:


This is the Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall, which was built in 1525. However, at this point, I will defer any description of the hall and instead embark on a guided tour of the heritage trail, as defined by the following map, which I’ve borrowed from a government website:


The trail starts in the village of Siu Hang, which can be reached by the 56C minibus from Fanling station:


According to the government website, the archway and the extension of the wall in front of the village were built to enhance the fung shui and thereby ensure that more male children were born in the village. There are ways to skew the sex ratio among newborns from the normal 50:50, but this isn’t one of them. Note the fish on the roof ridge of the small temple on the right—fish are a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture.

The trail follows the only road out of the village—the other roads on the map merely lead to the backdoor of San Wai Barracks and a firing range occasionally used by the PLA. As you cross the Ng Tung River, you will see this sign:


I’ve included it just to point out that ‘San Wai’ is the name given to the entire village, as recognized by the Hong Kong Post Office. The walled enclosure, the only thing of any historical significance in the village, is Kun Lung Wai!

Like the UK, Hong Kong has a graded system for the preservation of historical structures, the highest of which is ‘declared monument’. The last time I checked, there were 123 structures with this designation, six of which you can see on the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail. The gatehouse of Kun Lung Wai is one:


The rectangular blocking structure that you can see is a double door, known as dong chung, which is usually kept closed. Its purpose? To keep out evil spirits, which can only travel in straight lines. This seems to me to be a case of making up the rules to suit, because if I were an evil spirit, I wouldn’t allow mere humans to tell me what I can and cannot do.

In order to keep out genuine intruders, the gatehouse has a superb wrought iron double gate, but because this is kept permanently open nowadays, it’s impossible to get a good picture of the entire thing. The following photo shows just half of the gate:


…while the following photo shows the intricacy of the workmanship:


There is also a shrine inside the gatehouse:


…and a wooden staircase to an upper floor, which provides access to the windows you can see in the above photo.

The walls and corner guard towers are a separate declared monument. I’ve been trying to get permission to take a look inside one of the guard towers, which are permanently locked, for ages, so far without success.

The entire structure was built originally in 1744, although the walls have been rebuilt from time to time over the years, including a major rebuild a couple of years ago that struck me as unnecessary.

Incidentally, just one traditional house remains inside the wai:


There were two when we first moved here, and I would expect this one to disappear too in the next few years.

Although there is a sign to indicate where to go next, unlike other signs on the route, it isn’t particularly conspicuous. Look for a path that starts close to the southwest corner of the car park in front of the wai and follow that. Within a short distance, this is what you will see:


This is a profile view of the Shin Shut Study Hall. As you can see, it has a notably shabby appearance, because it simply isn’t being maintained. It was built in 1840, originally to prepare candidates for the imperial civil service examination, and it continued to function as a school until the Second World War. It is currently in private hands and is used to cultivate flower bulbs in the run-up to Chinese New Year, so I can’t help but ask: why include it in the ‘heritage’?

For real heritage in the village of San Uk, you should venture down the narrow alleyways on the other side of the study hall. There are still a few vernacular houses with plaster mouldings over doorways and under eaves, although they aren’t being maintained. This is a typical example (it can be seen on the traditional house in the first photo above):


Once you’ve seen everything in San Uk, simply continue in the same direction until you reach Sha Tau Kok Road. Cross this major traffic artery and continue along the road on the other side, which bears to the left before turning 90 degrees to the right. If you’re on the right track, you will see this sign:


Not every gap between ‘features’ on the trail has this kind of sign, so I do find it ironic that here’s one that is pointing to two of the least interesting such ‘features’. See what I mean:


This is Wing Ning Wai. Not only is it the only wai on this tour that doesn’t have a proper gatehouse; what you can see in the photo is all that survives of the walls! You can even walk in and come out through the back. However, all this may be explained by the fact that it’s the oldest wai here, dating back around 400 years.

Keep on following the road, which is called Siu Wan Road, although there aren’t many signs to this effect. You’ll have trouble spotting the detour to Tung Kwok Wai, but you will eventually arrive at the ancestral hall, which is the next declared monument on the trail.

The Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall has the typical layout associated with ancestral halls—three halls separated by open courtyards. There are a lot of features to admire here, and the polychrome mouldings were renewed a couple of years ago. The roof beams in the central hall are particularly impressive, featuring elaborate carpentry and intricate carvings, but the roof here is currently being repaired, and the scaffolding makes it impossible to take a good photograph. However, I took the following photo on that initial visit to provide some idea of what they are like:


The rear hall houses the Tang clan’s ‘soul tablets’, which are the earthly representations of past members. The central alcove features the clan’s earliest ancestors, including that of a fugitive Song princess who married the clan’s founder, while the right-hand alcove houses the soul tablets of members of the clan who made a significant contribution to the clan or who achieved high rank in the imperial court:


…and the left-hand alcove commemorates those clan members who excelled in virtue:


Each horizontal row represents a single generation.

It is widely believed in the West that the Chinese worship their ancestors. No they don’t! They revere them, which is not the same thing. Incidentally, I may have thought that ancestral halls were a rarity a decade ago, but I’ve subsequently discovered more than a dozen across the northern New Territories, which in retrospect isn’t surprising, After all, this part of Hong Kong was a prosperous part of imperial China until 1898, which the ‘barren rock’ seized by the British in 1840 wasn’t.

Right next door to the ancestral hall is a Tin Hau temple:


I’ve not been able to find a precise date for the temple’s construction, but I believe that it’s slightly older than the ancestral hall. Since discovering this temple, which is also a declared monument, I’ve often wondered why it’s dedicated to Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, given that the temple is about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get in Hong Kong.

The polychrome mouldings under the eaves on the front elevation are particularly fine:



The temple contains two bells that were cast more than 300 years ago. Both the temple and the ancestral hall have superb painted door gods, which you can see in More Door Gods. The representation of Yuchi Jingde on the left-hand door of the temple is particularly fierce.

A short distance along the road is another wai:


This is Lo Wai, yet another declared monument. Unlike Kun Lung Wai, there are no embrasures in the walls or corner guard towers. Instead, there are square projections in the middle of each wall, which would have allowed defenders on the ramparts to shoot along the walls at bandits, pirates and other potential attackers. The area was this lawless even after the British took over in 1898.

Continuing along the road past Lo Wai, the next point of interest is a shrine to the earth god:


There are shrines like this in several places in the area, but this is typical. I take the term ‘earth god’ to be a reference to one of the five elements in Chinese cosmology rather than having anything to do with planet Earth.

On the other side of the road from this shrine is a long-abandoned traditional Chinese mansion, and I’ve no idea why it was never included as a point of interest along the trail. I wrote about it in Bamboo Garden, but in the past year, major construction work has started here, and I’m not even sure whether the mansion will survive

 As you continue down the road, you will gradually become aware of industrial panelling on the left. I assume that this is because the surviving walls of Ma Wat Wai here have been deemed unsafe and are likely to collapse. However, the gatehouse of the wai is the last declared monument on the trail:


Like Kun Lung Wai, it has an elaborate wrought iron gate that is permanently open nowadays:


At this point, there is no good reason to continue on the trail, because there is nothing worth seeing beyond Ma Wat Wai, even though the next sign on the road points to Shek Lo:


However, before reaching Shek Lo, the road passes the entrance to Happy Garden, which I wrote about before the entrance was ‘restored’ in 2015:


In my earlier post, I conjectured that there was a connection between the garden and Shek Lo, but the garden is now choked with vegetation, as is Shek Lo:


It defies belief to contemplate this long abandoned mansion being included in a tour of the ‘historic’ sites in the neighbourhood, given it’s grossly neglected state. It was built by a local bigshot, not a member of the Tang clan, as late as 1924. Needless to say, I have been inside—when it wasn’t so overgrown—but access is now impossible (I’ve tried). This is what it looked like in 2014:


The final point on the trail is Tsung Kyam Church, which was originally built in 1927 and extended to two storeys in 1951. Once again, access isn’t possible, although there is nothing in the church’s external appearance to suggest that there is anything interesting inside:


It has now been abandoned, to be replaced by a newer building nearby.

The Christians who established this church have no connections with the Tang clan, and when they moved into the area, they built their own village, Shung Him Tong. And while the church is singularly uninteresting, there is a building, set back from the road, that I do think is worth a closer look. There is a turn off the main road just before you reach the church, and if you follow it for a short distance, this is what you will see:


Nothing exceptional, you might think, but there is a walled courtyard in front with quite an impressive entrance gate:


This is Kin Tak Mun (mun is Cantonese for ‘gate’ or ‘door’), and an inscription on the left states that it was built in 1910. It isn’t possible to gain access, but I took this photo by poking my camera through the bars of the gate:


The architectural features you can see are unusual for a Chinese building. The inscription on the wall states that this is a place where you can find tranquillity of mind.

There is an alleyway leading directly from the main road to the gate, and this is what the gate looks like from the side:


And that’s the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail. I do think it’s worth a visit, but I have one piece of advice: whatever you do, do not consult the Hong Kong Tourism Board website on the subject. It claims that the start of the trail is Fung Ying Seen Koon, a Taoist temple complex next to Fanling station. This site is worth a visit in its own right, but it is not part of the trail, and if you were to start here, you would find it impossible to locate the next stop on the website’s proposed itinerary, which omits Kun Lung Wai! And if you did decide to head east, the correct general direction, you would probably spot a traffic sign as you approached the first set of traffic lights on Sha Tau Kok Road indicating that you should turn right for the heritage trail. That would land you in Fanling’s industrial district. And from there you would be on your own. Good luck!

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

hidden history #3

Although the subject of my first post in this series—a Hindu temple—is hidden in the jungle, and you would never see it unless you went looking for it, and the subject of my second post—two stone tablets—is located in Fanling’s industrial district, and you would never go there without a specific reason to do so, this post is about a stone tablet that is merely hidden in plain sight.

The unnamed road that runs past our house joins Sha Tau Kok Road—the only road leading east out of Fanling—after about 400 metres, and just before it does so, this is what you will see:


The object of this discussion is the rectangular granite block, about 1.2 metres high, just beyond the notice board (which no longer appears to be in use).

This is what it looks like when viewed from the opposite direction:


I hardly ever cycled this way before 2016, when I learned that the section of the so-called ‘frontier closed area’ around Ta Kwu Ling had been opened to the public, and I wanted to check out the cycling possibilities (The Final Frontier). However, cycling around here requires that your attention be focused on the road ahead, and although I probably clocked ‘a nondescript block of concrete’ by the side of the road at some point, I’ve an excuse for not noticing that it was actually something significant. On the other hand, Paula and I have been walking out this way quite a lot recently because I’ve not been well enough to get the bike out, and neither of us spotted anything unusual. As you can see from the above photos, this granite block doesn’t grab your attention.

However, a couple of days ago, Paula suddenly exclaimed:

“Look! There’s writing on that stone.”

We didn’t want to stop to read it all, so I took some photos, and we continued on our way:


The first four horizontal lines of the Chinese section, reading in columns from right to left, is a translation of the English part of the inscription, but it’s difficult to make out after more than half a century of weathering. However, the remainder of the Chinese appears to be a list of people who donated money to the project. This is a closer look at the English part of the inscription:


In case you still can’t read it, this is what it says:
THIS ROAD WAS CONSTRUCTED BY 1ST BATTALION, 6TH QUEEN ELIZABETH’S OWN GURKHA RIFLES, 1ST BATTALION, 7TH DUKE OF EDINBURGH’S OWN GURKHA RIFLES, 59 INDEPENDENT GURKHA FIELD SQUADRON AND THE VILLAGERS OF LUNG YEUK TAU WITH MATERIALS SUPPLIED BY DISTRICT OFFICE TAI PO. 1967.
At the end of this description, there is an addition in a smaller font:
LIE YUK KEE STONE FACTORY
MADE IN LUEN WO MARKET.
I’ve added some punctuation to make it slightly more intelligible. The first word of the added part may be a ‘misprint’, because I’ve never seen this romanization before. Perhaps it should be ‘LEI’.

Behind the tablet is the former British Army barracks known as Gallipoli Lines, and the road follows the perimeter of the barracks before veering away shortly after it passes our house. Incidentally, the old name sign next to the main gate of the barracks, which I’ve known about for years and is just around the corner from this stone tablet, is still there:


The sign is now about 20 metres from the entrance, which I surmise was moved back when Sha Tau Kok Road was converted to a dual carriageway. There is a roundabout here now, which probably forced the retreat and allowed the old sign to retire into overgrown obscurity.

The Gurkhas responsible for building the road are unlikely to have been based in Gallipoli Lines though, because the Hindu temple that I described in Hidden History, which I assume was built for their benefit, is located in the nearby former British Army base of Burma Lines. The People’s Liberation Army, which took over every other British Army facility in Hong Kong, must have felt that Burma Lines was surplus to their requirements, and it was abandoned, hence the encroachment by the surrounding jungle.

Lung Yeuk Tau is not the name of a specific village; it refers to the general area, which includes six tsuens (‘villages’) and five wais (‘walled enclosures’), all of which were established by the Tang clan during the Ming and Qing dynasties. This road leads to just one of each. As you can probably see from the first photo above, Sha Tau Kok Road is a dual carriageway, but it cannot have been in 1967, because the road is now inaccessible for anyone approaching from the east.

Luen Wo would have been separate from Fanling in 1967 but is now regarded as part of the latter. And it’s now known as Luen Wo Hui (hui is Cantonese for market). Fanling is no longer part of Tai Po District. It is now in North District, which was established in 1981.

The original road would have been concrete, but it had deteriorated to such an extent that it was broken up last year and replaced by tarmac, except for a short section about 250 metres from the memorial tablet, which presumably was considered good enough to remain untouched:


I now find myself wondering whether there are any more pointers to the area’s history that I’ve missed.

other posts in this series
Hidden History.
Hidden History #2.
Hidden History #4.

Saturday, 14 March 2020

alternative sixties: part 2

…continued from Part 1 (1960–63)

The Rivieras—California Sun (1964)
This recording, with a pounding tom-tom beat, is a cover of a song originally recorded by Joe Jones in 1961 and is the only track that I know by this band.

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland—Ain’t Doing Too Bad (1964)
I can’t remember what prompted me to buy an album by Bobby Bland, on which this was the stand-out track, but I do remember describing the singer as ‘a less histrionic version of James Brown’ at the time. However, when I listen now, that description is unfair to Bland, whom I consider to be a better singer than Brown.

The Valentinos—It’s All Over Now (1964)
The Valentinos were also known as the Womack Brothers, and this version of the song, written by Bobby Womack, is far better than the cover by the Rolling Stones.

Tommy Tucker—Hi-Heel Sneakers (1964)
Although Tommy Tucker was recorded by Chess Records of Chicago, he was an also-ran in a stable that included Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. This is his only notable recording.

Don Covay—Mercy, Mercy (1964)
Don Covay was also a minor figure on his label, in this case Stax Records of Memphis, where the star performer was Otis Redding. The guitar on this record is played by Jimi Hendrix—before he developed his flamboyant individual style.

The Olympics—Good Lovin’ (1965)
The Olympics are the only performers to make this list that I also included in Music of the 1950s. By this date, doo-wop was a moribund genre, but you wouldn’t guess it by listening to this recording. The song is probably better known in an insipid version by the Young Rascals.

The Knickerbockers—Lies (1965)
When I was a student in Manchester in the mid-1960s, I spent a lot of time scouring second-hand shops looking for old 45s. I often had no idea what I was seeing, but any record on the London American label was snapped up immediately. This is the only reason I’m familiar with this recording, which sounds remarkably like the Beatles. It’s the only track I’ve ever heard by this band, which made no impression whatsoever in the UK.

Roy Head—Treat Her Right (1965)
The thing that should immediately grab your attention on hearing this record is the instrumental intro, which lasts no less than 34 seconds! This recording sounds like it’s by a black singer, but Roy Head was a white boy from Texas!

The Vogues—Five O’Clock World (1965)
This record is another result of my policy of buying London American 45s unheard. It’s also the only record I’ve heard by this band, and if you listen to it, you will probably ask why it was never a hit in the UK, given that London American was a Decca label, which should have guaranteed it plenty of airplay.

Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs—Wooly Bully (1965)
This almost qualifies as a novelty record, by a novelty band, but what’s this song about? I’ve no idea, but I’ve always liked it!

Sir Douglas Quintet—She’s About a Mover (1965)
Although this record was a minor hit in the UK, the band quickly disappeared from view, and I never heard anything else by them. However, this track is definitely worth a listen.

Little Joe Cook—Stormy Monday Blues (1965)
When I was a student, I knew two fellow students who were blues ‘purists’ (‘white men can’t sing the blues’). I remember that they were full of praise for this record, which had been released on the Sue label, an outlet for American blues recordings at the time. They were mortified to learn a short time later that it was actually by Chris Farlowe and his band, who were moonlighting and therefore needed a pseudonym.

The point of this story: white men can sing the blues, although the title is a misnomer. This recording is actually a cover of Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker. Stormy Monday Blues is a completely different song!

Jackie Edwards—Keep On Running (1965)
This song was a hit for Spencer Davis, who also covered Somebody Help Me, another Jackie Edwards original. Edwards, who was Jamaican, was more or less unknown to the general population in the UK, although I imagine that his music was appreciated by the country’s West Indian population.

Eddie Floyd—Knock on Wood (1965)
This is the only song on this list that I ever saw performed live. Floyd was part of the Stax Road Show, which I saw in 1967. Although Floyd was low down on a bill that starred Otis Redding and Sam and Dave, I still rate this record as a stand-out in the Stax catalogue.

The Electric Prunes—I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) (1966)
Most people listening to music in the 1960s wouldn’t have become aware of LSD until the release of the Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, but this is when that notorious hallucinogenic drug first hit mainstream consciousness, albeit not in the UK. The title of the song says it all.

? and the Mysterians—96 Tears (1966)
The unusual feature of this recording is that the principal accompaniment is by staccato organ. It’s yet another one-hit wonder, which you would probably guess from the name of the band.

The Bobby Fuller Four—I Fought the Law (1966)
Unlike the songs covered by Blondie in this list, the Clash did a creditable version of I Fought the Law, which I included in a list of my ten favourite punk records.

Bobby Fuller was found dead in his car a couple of weeks after this record hit the US charts. His death was ruled a suicide, a verdict that spawned a few conspiracy theories because it did seem an unlikely scenario following his first (and last) major hit.

The Smoke—My Friend Jack (1967)
I never heard this song when it was released, which is not surprising, given that it was banned by the BBC because the lyric is a graphic description of what it’s like to ingest LSD. The disco version by Boney M in the 1970s was meaningless, because it retained just the opening line of the song:
My friend Jack eats sugar lumps
which was a popular method of ingesting acid when it first appeared on the scene. It sounds innocuous when it isn’t followed by lines such as
Oh! What beautiful things he sees.

Lost in a wonderland of colour and of sound.

He’s seeing things you can’t imagine
This was real psychedelia!

The Paragons—The Tide Is High (1967)
This is another sixties song covered by Blondie more than a decade later, and as with their earlier cover, they didn’t add anything to the original.

further reading
Black Music of the 1960s.

Monday, 9 March 2020

a mess on the ground

Paula and I have several running jokes between us, but the one I’m about to describe is seasonal. It stems from an incident that Paula described to me several years ago. She’d been travelling in a minibus from the village where we live to Fanling station, and she happened to remark to a fellow passenger that the cotton trees that can be seen almost everywhere around these parts were looking particularly beautiful. The reply?

“Yes! but they leave a mess on the ground.”

Ever since, whenever we’re out walking or cycling, whoever is in front will comment, in a faux display of annoyance when we approach a cotton tree:

“Look at this bloody mess on the ground!”

Of course, we don’t really think it’s a mess. Cotton tree flowers remain colourful—and attractive—even after the tree has decided it has no further use for them. To illustrate this point, I present the following series of photographs.

Whenever we cycle out west, we start by following a narrow path from our local river to the outskirts of Sheung Shui. A couple of weeks ago, shortly before we reached Sheung Shui, we saw the following:


Actually, we’d passed this way three days earlier, and I’d stopped to take a photograph, but in the interim the accumulation of flowers in the drains on each side of the path had noticeably increased.

And this is what the same section of path looked like when viewed from the opposite direction:



Further along this path, just before it reaches the river, there is another ‘mess’:


The path to the right is a dead end.

The road that runs past our house also skirts a PLA base (Gallipoli Lines in the days of the British Army). There are several cotton trees on this base, including some that are visible from our balcony, but there are just two close to the road. This is what the ‘mess’ there looked like recently:



These two photos show the ‘mess’ created by each tree.

The road that I’ve just described eventually joins Sha Tau Kok Road, the only road that leads east from Fanling. There is a small cotton tree next to the junction, and this is the admittedly small ‘mess’ that it has created:


If we need to cross the expressway west of Fanling when cycling, we have five options. However, when heading west, we always cross via a footbridge close to the end of the Drainage Services access road that runs alongside the Sheung Yue River. Once across the footbridge, we follow a path that runs parallel to the expressway, and I took the next three photos a few days ago along this path:




You will notice that there are quite a lot of dead leaves mixed in with the flowers in the first photo, but this is, after all, the fall, the time of year when leaves fall off the trees. Most of the ‘mess’ in the third photo has been created by the cotton tree alongside the expressway, but notice that the cotton tree on the left of the path has a most unusual feature. It has a clubfoot! I’ve no idea what has caused this phenomenon.

When returning from cycling out west, we follow a dead-end road south alongside the expressway until we can cross the latter. At one point on a recent ride, I spotted yet another ‘mess’ and stopped to take a photograph. I was able to reach over the fence with my camera, and it was a case of point and hope. This was the result:


Incidentally, I’ve seen people collecting the fallen flowers on several occasions, because they have some function in Chinese herbal medicine, although precisely what that is I’m unable to say. I should also mention that cotton trees usually flower in March, but this year they’ve been a month early, which explains why I’m able to present this report in early March!

*  *  *

I compiled the above report yesterday but didn’t post it immediately. Earlier today, we were cycling around the Ping Che area, east of Fanling, when I spotted the following as we rode past:



Most of the ‘mess’ here isn’t on the ground. It’s on the tops of parked cars, and I couldn’t resist including a couple of photos. There are three cotton trees here, and the straight trunk of one of them can be seen on the left of the second photo

further reading
Cotton Trees
A Blaze of Glory