Business visitors lured to Lantau
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From making salted egg yolks in Tai O village to learning kung fu from a shaolin master - the Hong Kong Tourism Board is promoting cultural activities on Lantau Island to appeal to business travellers.
Many business visitors return to the city frequently and want a richer experience than the usual round of dining and shopping. They seek physical and cultural activities, and are finding them on Lantau.
'Long-haul visitors love cultural activities and nature,' said James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Tourism Board, which is promoting such adventures for business travellers - whose numbers have not yet been affected by the European debt crisis.
Visitors to Hong Kong for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) increased steadily to a total of one million over the first nine months of this year - 15 per cent more than the same period last year - according to the Tourism Board.
Some end up in Lantau's Tai O village, learning to make salted egg yolks - a traditional delicacy - from retired fisherman Kwok Wa-hei, 75, in his stilt-house built on tidal flats.
Salted egg yolks may not appeal to everyone: the American travel-news website cnngo.com labelled them one of the world's disgusting foods - for which it later apologised.
They're all in a day's work for Kwok. 'You should crack open a duck egg near its top and take out its egg yolk,' he said, letting the contents of the shell slide into his palm.
He pulled away the egg white, since only the yolk is wanted. Then, with remarkable gentleness, he washed the fragile yolk in a bowl of water before shifting it from one hand to the other.
He placed it carefully on a bamboo tray and sprinkled salt onto it, saying: 'It will be ready after three days in the sun.'
Because the yolks break easily, some companies and schools turn the task into a group team-building activity, Kwok said.
Other activities for business travellers include learning martial arts at Lantau's Shaolin Wushu Cultural Centre, and joining a tai chi class in Tai O. People interested in cooking can learn to make dim sum at Ming Court, a Mong Kok restaurant awarded two Michelin stars.
To cater to nature-loving travellers, free hiking tours will take place every Sunday until December 11, including a heritage walk from Tung Chung to Tai O and a coastal ramble passing by scenic Tai Long Wan. Bookings should be made at the Tourism Board's visitor centres.