Saturday, June 16, 2007

Report on HK

I'm not sure I had time to contemplate what my experience of Hong Kong would be, however quite reassuringly I wasnt confronted by much of a culture shock. I found it easy to navigate, easy to ask for directions and relatively easy to find last minute materials to preapare for Hofex (my reason for being there!). I probably (quite ignorently) didnt anticipate the extent of commercialisation by Western companies in Hong Kong which really is the gateway to China.

After much rearrangement, quite proudly I finally finished setting up the Somage Fine Foods stand in the Australian Pavillion of Hofex. I didnt really know what to antipicipate - Afterall, I was trying to sell tea to the chinese! I was was optimistic nonetheless.

Once the booth had been setup, I had a chance to check out the countryside a little. I was asounded at how many high rise buildings they could fit on a small bit of turf, but at the same time I didnt find it overly crowded while transiting around the place.

It wasnt long before I discovered why I didnt really stand out as much as I expected - Hog Kong had quite a large population of ex-pats living there. There was heaps of western type bars filled with heaps of westerners. I managed to catch up with Paul Pratt of Just Java who was kind enough to lend me a coffee machine for our booth. I went to his coffee roastery which featured an electric probat roaster with an air filtration unit that utilises water to clean roasting emissions before being released into the air.

Despite the westernisation of Hong Kong, it seems quite abit of the eastern heritage is still preserved. Despite how modern much of the infrastructure is, I was a little suprised at some quirkynesses (if thats a word) you can encounter. One is that they still use bamboo scaffolding on high rises.

Another was street sweepers - literally people swept the street. There is essentially two social classes which transcended in varous ways including the nature of restaurants (expensive western restaurants catering for tourists vs cheaper chinese stores) and modes of transport (taxi for westerners, bus for locals).

After a few days at Hofex (where encouragingly our Chamellia Organic Tea & Kali Chocolate were proving to be quite popular), I stumbled accross the infamous (from coffee geek) peter tam, who offered me a coffee at his booth.

In return I made a hot chocolate using Kali which Peter seemed pretty happy with..

I have to say after the coffees I had that I'm proud of specialty coffee we are treated to in Australia (well at least in pockets! - I will speak more about the pioneers of our industry in Australia in later posts). In the end Hofex was a great experience, providing a lot of potential for Somage to make an impact in Asia.


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