Sham Tseng, Mother Goose

Talking of out of the way places to go to eat, also in mid-80s, I was taken to a place famous for its goose. I have to say that goose and duck fall some way behind turkey and chicken on my list of favourite foods. I’m not a huge fan of most English foods, but it’s hard to beat a traditional English roast turkey/chicken unless it’s a chicken curry (any Indian style). I do think that Chinese cuisine has found a way of serving up the greasier goose/duck meats that the Europeans.

Anyway, at time of our visit, Sham Tseng wasn’t much of a place and it had just been overshadowed by a massive flyover. None of which provided the sort of ambience one seeks for fine eating.

Underneath the underpass on the way to cook your goose

Underneath the underpass on the way to cook your goose

The Sham Tseng nullah, like every other river in Hong Kong and the New Territories; you’d defy gravity in order to avoid swimming in it.

A big part of the polution problem in those days were the squatter houses built on stilts over the river.   The latter providing the sanitation.

A big part of the pollution problem in those days were the squatter houses built on stilts over the river. The latter providing the sanitation. Some of these shacks actually were the famous Sham Tseng goose kitchens.

On the day we visited, the opera was in town. And where better to appreciate an operatic  performance than under an extremely noisy highway overpass

On the day we visited, the opera was in town. And where better to appreciate an operatic performance than under an extremely noisy highway overpass

On second thoughts, Chinese opera is a magnificent visual spectacle best enjoyed under the aural protective umbrella of a major highway.

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The amusing thing about Chinese opera, is that nobody hangs around too long or pays too much attention. The story seems to go on all day (around 18 hours) and too much of it is within the human range of hearing.

The amusing thing about Chinese opera, is that nobody hangs around too long or pays too much attention. The story seems to go on all day (around 18 hours) and too much of it is within the human range of hearing.

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Geese cooking in a Sham Tseng shack

Geese cooking in a Sham Tseng shack

 

Around 13 years later, living and working in Hong Kong, I found myself working on the romantically named Kowloon Drainage Master Plan. A romantic name for some of the most romantic drains around Kowloon – you can’t begin to imagine! However, one the ‘drains’ was the Sham Tseng nullah.

What man in his right mind would pass up the opportunity to revisit the Sham Tseng nullah?

What man in his right mind would pass up the opportunity to revisit the Sham Tseng nullah?

Previously a shack based cottage industry, now industrial scale.

Previously a shack-based cottage industry, now industrial scale.

The same buildings seen from upstream. The nullah is longer these days as reclamation of the shore took place for the high-rises in the distance

The same buildings seen from upstream. The nullah is longer these days as reclamation of the shore took place for the high-rises in the distance

More scenic views of the nullah, courtesy of an aficionado.

More scenic views of the nullah, courtesy of an aficionado. The shanty dwellers have had an honest attempt at creating their own little Venice. The water, however, is a stinking black toxic sewer.

At the top end of the nullah, you can enjoy DSD's 'cubist' interpretation of a river channel

At the top end of the nullah, you can enjoy DSD’s ‘cubist’ interpretation of a river channel with artfully placed piles of trash and filth.

Sham Tseng, a bracing stroll along the left bank of the nullah sets one up nicely for a banquet of the local delicacy…

"You want flies with that??"

“You want flies with that??”

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