Hong Kong calendar

Seasons, Traditions, Superstitions

January, wear a puffer jacket and gloves
The real cold lasts about three weeks
But it makes you wear a beanie to bed

February, it’s cold and dry
Bamboo splinters under the blue-brown sky


March, after Lunar New Year
Mrs Kong picks the kumquats off the trees outside her front door
(They are for prosperity)
She leaves them for weeks, rubbed in salt and drying in her flat basket
The tang pierces the air as soon as you open our front gate


April, the humidity is about to begin its ascent
Mammoth frail insects cruise around
Some afternoons it feels like being in the hothouse at the zoo
You remember the heat that’s coming


May, rain floods down
When it doesn’t, butterflies the size of my hand doze around the plants


June, and it’s well hot enough for the lizards
Snakes dead and alive are draped over the paths


July, August, September
It’s too hot for photos
The camera’s broken anyway after the lens took in too much moisture
(Now, we seal our camera in a plastic storage tub)
We spend our days emptying the dehumidifiers each hour
Venturing outside only when absolutely compelled
Out there
It’s as if the whole place has been covered with a piece of Gladwrap
and microwaved
The sky is close
It’s like walking through a steam bath

October, Mrs Kong guts fish and hangs them on poles to dry
She leaves the innards on the ground for Bobby, the village dog


November, the crushing heat is lifting
Occasionally you might even need to put on a long-sleeved shirt

December, people should come and visit
It’s crisp, the pollution is low

The smell of dried fish is gone.



13 Comments Add yours

  1. Kim says:

    I think I might be like Mrs Kong when I’m older. Better than being Bobby the village dog.

    A more environmentally friendly way to keep the humidity out of your home is to use charcoal or de-icing salt (probably hard to fine in HK). They also help with smells. I use the charcoal that has been left over at the end of BBQ season and put it in a bucket in my store room. It keeps away the weird smell in there, the mold growth and the humidity.

    On the topic of salt, I need a reminder to buy some salt in Singapore as it seems there’s none left to buy in HK. I wonder if people will sell their salt stocks once they realise it’s of no use to them.

    Where does the sky start, so where is “close”?

    Did you forget about typhoon season? The most exciting part of the HK climate.

    Have you had any of those salty kumquats? Let me know after you’ve tried one.

    Just some random thoughts. πŸ™‚ ζˆ‘ε€ͺεΎ—ι–’!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      It would be pretty good to grow up to be Mrs Kong. She spends all day shuffling outside to check if her and Mr Kong’s undies are dry, and then she plays mahjong and cards every night until 11pm. Which is quite late for a 90-year-old I think.
      Hot tip about the charcoal. I guess we’ll have to have more barbeques.
      Good idea about the salt. Though it’ll probably get knicked out of your bag by HK Customs. A black market for salt. What a situation.
      The first impression of my (and apparently all Australians) upon landing in HK is the closeness of the sky. We come from a country of dry heat and high skies. I don’t know where the sky starts, but it’s a real feeling. HK definitely closes in around you.
      I couldn’t remember when typhoon season was 😦
      And no, I haven’t had a salty kumquat…I don’t think gweilos are probably welcome to just tuck in. Bet she’s regretting wasting all that salt on them now too.
      I’m going back this morning! We never sat yesterday at all. Vacated at 3:50pm to file a new statement of claim. Hehe.

  2. I love the “Glad wrap in the microwave” bit… I felt like that sometimes in Brisbane, and I bet HK is more steamy..
    Here in Belgium we have just had months of “small grey tupperware container in the freezer”, but spring is just springing and I am buzzing with excitement. It’s nice to have seasons. Even if you know that you have to anticipate stinky fish, at least you know now how long the smell lasts for now…

    1. jadeluxe says:

      What is “small grey tupperware container in the freezer”? I’m so unworldly and confused!
      But yeah it’s LOVELY to have seasons. We haven’t had that in recent years in Australia really, right…not in Melbourne anyway…

      1. just meant that it’s been cold and grey and icey and small here… πŸ˜‰

  3. Toni says:

    My brain INSISTED on reading that as a poem, and it was amazing. I applaud you by snapping my fingers.
    Salty kumquats sound — interesting. Much more so than the fish, anyway. I don’t even like the smell of fresh fish.

  4. jadeluxe says:

    The salted kumquats eventually go all small, shiny and sticky – they end up looking like Butter Menthols. I’m positive they wouldn’t taste that good.
    Thanks for the snaps πŸ™‚

  5. cinova says:

    Lovely idea to document the seasons with a verse poem and photo essay. You have inspired me to do the same about Canada…you should do something like this about Melbourne too! I like the lines: ‘bamboo splinters under the blue brown sky’ and the details, such as ‘they are for prosperity’ and ‘the smell of dried fish is gone’ is a perfect closing line! Nice one, Jade.

  6. jadeluxe says:

    Thanks Cindy. I sadly don’t have that many photos of Melbourne that don’t feature smiling idiots in them…I guess one becomes blase about documenting one’s home city in photos. I miss Melbourne πŸ™‚

  7. Karen M says:

    Mrs. Kong salted kumquats are actually a traditional Cantonese remedy for sore throat. Take a few salted kumquats with a few teaspoons of the brine, mix with hot water and drink up.

  8. jadeluxe says:

    Is that right?? I have a sore throat right now! Maybe I’ll try to find some!

    1. KarenM says:

      Ask Mrs. Kong if she will let you have some of her preserved kumquats. Start making your own and the preserve can last for several years. Get well soon. I love your blog.

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