HONG KONG -- Whether in town for business or pleasure, visitors to
Hong Kong can get an up-close and personal look at Hong Kong daily
life and society as part of a new Meet the People program sponsored
by the Hong Kong Tourist Association.
The free program introduces visitors to English-speaking experts
on everything from the subtle rituals of a Chinese tea ceremony to
the graceful -- yet powerful -- martial art of Tai Chi.
Shoppers in search of a great buy will learn about Chinese
antiques from one of Hollywood Road's top antiques dealers, while
visitors to Cheung Chau Island will get acquainted with its
centuries-old Bun Festival.
Most lectures and demonstrations last about an hour, and topics
vary by day of the week. Visitors meet their hosts during the day
at temples, teahouses and other venues throughout the city.
Reservations are required only for groups of 10 or more.
"We believe the interpersonal exchange of the Meet the People
program will make Hong Kong the trip of a lifetime for visitors,"
said Lily Shum, the tourist association's director for the
"If they participate every day they are in Hong Kong, they will
come to know Hong Kong as much as we do," she said.
The following is a rundown of the programs.Living with the Spirit World (Mondays at Tin Hau Temple, North
Writer S.J. Chan, author of "Traditional Chinese Festivals and
Local Celebrations," introduces visitors to Tin Hau, one of Hong
Kong's most influential deities.
The hourlong program takes place at Tin Hau Temple in North
Point, one of the oldest temples dedicated to the goddess of the
sea.Treasures of the Past (Mondays at the Dragon Culture Antiques
Antiques dealer and scholar Victor Choi helps visitors navigate
the shops and merchandise along famed Hollywood Road.
The hourlong tour includes tips on distinguishing between true
antiques and good copies.Tai Chi (Tuesdays and Wednesdays behind the Hong Kong Cultural
Center in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon).
Yes, it looks graceful, but in its highest form Tai Chi is a
deadly martial art.
For visitors, however, the emphasis is on Tai Chi's graceful
movements and its benefits for the mind and soul.
The hourlong classes are taught by Pandora Wu, one of Hong
Kong's best-known Tai Chi masters. Wu, who also teaches Tai Chi
swordplay, has performed before visiting dignitaries.The Language and Lore of Tea (Wednesdays at the Moon Garden Tea
House, Causeway Bay).
Tea house owner Vincent Li introduces visitors to tea-drinking
etiquette Hong Kong-style while relating the aromatic beverage's
Far more than a refreshing beverage, tea is seen as having
almost mystical properties in the East.
This hourlong session promises to teach visitors why the Chinese
believe: "Life is like tea. The longer it is immersed, the richer
As a keepsake of initiation into the ancient ritual, Li presents
his "students" with a certificate of their participation.Hong Kong's Contemporary Art Scene (Fridays at the Hanart TZ
Johnson Chang Tsong-zung, a curator, art critic and gallery
owner, shares his insight into the contemporary art scene in Hong
Kong, China and Taiwan.
Chang founded the Hanart TZ Gallery in 1983, and it has since
become the country's leading gallery specializing in Chinese
experimental art.Buns and Medals, Vignettes of Island Life (Saturdays at the
Cheung Chau Windsurfing Center and Outdoor Cafe, Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau is small, but its dumbbell-like shape makes it the
most unusual of Hong Kong's more than 260 outlying islands.
Island native Lai Kam regales visitors with stories about the
island's unique Bun Festival, which has been celebrated in early
summer every year since 1777.
The eight-day festival celebrates the deity Pak Tai, who is
believed to rule the ocean and look after the island residents'
Kam also talks about the island's most famous daughter, his
niece, Lee Lai San, who won the Olympic Gold Medal in windsurfing
at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.Wind and Water, the Relationship Between Buildings and
Landscape -- Fung Shui (Sundays at the HKTA Visitors Center,
Fung shui master Joseph Cheung explains the ancient principles
of fung shui, the practice of positioning objects with respect to
one another in order to achieve harmony and good fortune.
Cheung emigrated to the U.S. in 1989 to start a fung shui
consultancy business in San Francisco, where his clients include
banks, corporations, restaurants and private citizens.
For information about booking a program, call (800) 282-4582 or