If you’re there for the HKTDC Watch & Clock Fair in September you can sit in the bar of the Harbour View Hotel with a gin and tonic and enjoy watching fatuous foreigners slither across the aqueous pavements testing the veracity of the inevitable typhoon’s force. There’s a covered walkway that leads from the hotel to the Convention Centre and it was there that I heard an all too familiar cry, “Aha, Lakin, I here.” And sure enough, in the midst of the bustling crowd, there was U. Hueng Loe waving some papers in my direction with one hand and pointing to a quieter spot close to the steps of the Centre.
I like U., but I’m not sure if he’s a genuine oddball, a hustler, conman or a man of many unorthodox parts, but whenever I see him he has some weird and wonderful idea like last year’s endeavour to sell a handless watch for its tick. As usual he was very excited and after his usual quick head bow and a high-five he started whispering as if he was about to impart some state secrets.
“You know Mouse’s chis wash?”
“Mouse’s chis wash?”
“You not know chis wash from Mouse’s company in Swisserland?”
“You mean Moser’s cheese watch?” suddenly realising he was talking about the million franc watch with a case made from Vacheron Mont d’Or cheese and resin.
“Thas what I say no?”
“Yes, U. I know the watch. Why?”
“I have glate idee for China vershon.”
“You mean a Chinese cheese watch?”
“No, no cheese, something more smelly than chis.”
“What’s more smelly than cheese?” I asked
“Aha, you ask thousan dolla quesshon.”
“So tell me U.”
Checking that nobody was listening, U. whispered “皮蛋”
I repeated what I thought he said, “Pidan?”
“Yes, pidan,” he repeated as if I should know what he was talking about.
“What’s pidan U.?”
“You no know famous pidan?” U. asked with an air of disbelief.
“No, I’m sorry. What is it?”
“Famous China delicacy. Thousand year ol egg. I go to make wash with thousan year ol egg!”
“You’re joking right U.?”
“No, no joke. Packing design leady with clispy noodle basket with Chinese pancake for lapping paper. Working on wash now but is not easy, colour is problem for eggs gleen, blown and black. But we find solushon soon.”
“Aren’t they too runny U.?”
“Not on movement yet.”
“I mean the eggs being runny, not the movement .”
“Ah ha Lakin, I make yoke - that another one ha. So what you think about my wash - you want invest?”
“As the song goes, I think you better think it out again.”
“You no like eggs?”
“Yes U. But to eat, U., to eat.”
“I sorry for you, washes in chis and eggs are the fusha.”
With that U. Hueng Loe disappeared into the Trade Fair clearly with great eggspectations.