For quite a while I’ve noticed Lorette Roberts’ colorful books about various regions in Hong Kong, so I was quite excited when I won Sketches of Sai Kung (Blacksmith Books, 2013) in a round about way. (It pays to know people in high places, I must say!)
Sai Kung and its surroundings are located north of the bustling areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. I’d always known it as a place to hike on weekends, but upon opening this book I realized it was so much more than that. And it definitely brought back memories.
* Shaw Studios: I ventured out to these famed studios the autumn of 1990, a couple of months into my first year in Hong Kong. Think Hollywood with a Chinese twist. The studio sets specialize in period kung fu drama. The Shaw Brothers were (and one still is at 105 years and counting) movie moguls going back to the 1920s. Lorette Roberts’ beautiful sketches of Shaw Studios bring back fun memories.
* Seafood restaurants: Sai Kung is also famous for its seafood restaurants, some of the freshest in Hong Kong. Diners point to fish and seafood swimming in aquariums (usually outside). A waiter will sweep in with a net (or hands) to retrieve the star ingredients. It’s nice to eat outdoors along the water. I spent a memorable night there once talking the night away with a good friend and a friend of hers.
* Jaspa’s Restaurant: I had totally forgotten about Jaspa’s until I saw Lorette’s sketch toward the end of the book. It’s a fusion restaurant with an open front. I had another memorable dinner here with the same friend (and the husband/boyfriend we’re no longer with). We even spotted a local celeb who once dated the magician David Copperfield.
Besides these memories, the other things I love about this book are the sketches of old Hong Kong mailboxes, boats, lanterns, and everyday still life scenes like a ladder with laundry and dried fish hung on the rungs.
My kids love this book, too, and often ask me to read it to them before bed. The book includes three fold-out flaps, which the kids enjoy opening. Many sketches are in color, although some are pencil drawings. This mixture, along with the thick paper and hardcover binding, makes for a delightful high-end art book.
As I’ve learned, books like these go quickly or end up on Amazon for US$200. Sketches of Sai Kung is in its second edition, but Roberts’ other sketch books are not all available anymore. I just snatched up her Sketches of Soho, about another area where I used to meet my fancy friends for dinner. Blacksmith Books ships to anywhere in the world!