Learning Cantonese: 舊情 ● 屯門 or A Past Love for Tuen Mun

If you’ve ever visited Tuen Mun in recent years, words like 荒蕪 fong1 mòuh4 (“to lie waste”) and 沙塵滾滾 sāa1 chàhn4 gwán2 gwán2 (“dust-swept”) hardly seem appropriate descriptions of the place, but not so long ago that was precisely what Tuen Mun was like. And there are times, I confess, when I would prefer it to have stayed that way . . .

In this 5-minute video put together by 明愛賽馬會屯門青少年綜合服務 Caritas Integrated Services for Young People, a long-time resident of Tuen Mun 劉姑娘 (roughly, Mrs Lau, or even perhaps Auntie Lau [?]) shares some of her memories of the small city with us. As a practical person, she embraces the convenience which the building of housing estates and other amenities has brought to the area. However, at the same time, she gently laments the erosion over time of a sense of 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 or “human touch”. And while, on the whole, she talks about the urban environment, she does touch on culture in her comments on the 天后誕 Tīn1 Hauh6 daan3 or “Birthday of Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven”, a major celebration in the district centred on the Tin Hau Temple at 口角 Hau Kok.

If after watching the video you feel like dipping into a bit more of the old Tuen Mun, I recommend a visit to the 屯門風物志圖片庫 Tuen Mun Heritage Image Database. There is also a collection of “Tuen Mun Old Photos” available on a Facebook page here. If, on the other hand, you prefer a contemporary ambience, then I suggest you visit this short video walk through Tuen Mun featured in the “When in Doubt, Take a Walk” series put together by artist Sampson Wong and photographer Eric Tsang. It begins, I think, at the pedestrian overpass near 藍地 Lam Tei, takes in the concrete river bed at 屯子圍 Tuen Tsz Wai, approaches 兆康 Siu Hong MTR station and ends up at the iconic 屯門碼頭 Tuen Mun Pier. You can watch that here.

The most interesting thing grammatically about the video is the use of 响 héung2 instead of the more usual hái2 to indicate being in a location. You’ll hear it in the opening sentence, 我係一個已經响屯門住咗40年嘅街坊 = “I am a local [街坊] who has lived in Tuen Mun for 40 years”. Listen out for other instances, including 响佢屋企食午飯 = “to eat lunch at their place”, 响鄉事會路 = “(in) Heung Sze Wui Road” and 响嗰度 = “in that place”. Remember, too, that 喺 is sometimes pronounced héi2 by some speakers, the film director 周冠威 Kiwi Chow being a notable example.

There’s a lot of worthwhile vocabulary here too, including 天翻地覆 tīn1 fāan1 deih6 fūk1 = heaven & earth turning upside down; earth-shattering; 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 = the human touch; to possess humane qualities; 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = sweet Chinese dessert soup; 盛事 sìhng4 sih6 = a grand occasion; ● 心思思 sām1 sī1 sī1 = itch, longing; 地標 deih6 bīu1 = landmark; 嫁女餅 gaa3 néuih5 béng2 = dowry cake; and 陸續 luhk6 juhk6 = one after another.

Please scroll down for my transcription (it’s not perfect, but most of it is accurate), English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Caption: 舊情 ● 屯門 | An Old Love: Tuen Mun

Caption: 屯門居民 | 劉姑娘 | Tuen Mun Resident | Mrs Lau

我係一個已經屯門住 40 年街坊 | 見證住屯門天翻地覆嘅轉變 | 40 年前嘅屯門 | 好多都唔方便 | 乜嘢都 | 有嘅,我諗都係人情味囉

● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood; here, the sense seems to imply “a local person” | ● 見證 gin3 jing3 = to bear witness to | ● 天翻地覆 tīn1 fāan1 deih6 fūk1 = heaven & earth turning upside down; earth-shattering | ● 人情味yàhn4 chìhng4 meih6 = the human touch; to possess humane qualities

Note: The verb 見證 is one of those verbs that attracts the aspect marker住 jyuh6. Another example appeared in Alfred Chan’s video on dai pai dong: 見證住香港大牌檔文化嘅興衰 = “bearing witness to the rise and fall of Hong Kong’s dai pai dong culture”.

I am a local [街坊] who has lived in Tuen Mun for 40 years, and have witnessed Tuen Mun’s earth-shattering changes. In the Tuen Mun of 40 years ago, many things were inconvenient — there was nothing. The one thing there was, I think, was a humaneness.

左右隔籬係互相幫助啦 | 有陣時會煲糖水 [呢] | 就會好似請街坊樣,我 | 呢度個碗、個一碗咁 | 大家就咁樣分享嘅 | 好似係有咩事呀 | 或者出咗去九龍趕唔切返 | 我鄰居呢,就會幫我湊個小朋友放學 | 我 [個] 小朋友响佢屋企食午飯都得嘅 | 屯門作一個充滿歷史嘅小城市 | 天后誕就係 . . .

● 糖水 tòhng4 séui2 = sweet Chinese dessert soup — typical examples include 紅豆沙 (red bean soup), 杏仁糊 (almond paste soup), and 芝麻糊 (sesame paste soup) | ● 湊 chau3 = to look after; to raise (a child) | ● 天后誕 Tīn1 Hauh6 daan3 = birthday of Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven (celebrated on Day 23 of the third lunar month)

Neighbours all around [左右] helped one another out. Sometimes, [we] would make a sweet Chinese dessert soup and sort of treat the [whole] neighbourhood — here a bowl for you and there a bowl for you. Everyone would share in that way, as if it were some kind of special occasion [好似係有咩事呀]. Or, if I went to Kowloon and couldn’t make it back in time, my neighbours would look after my child for me outside of school hours. It was even OK for my child to eat lunch at their place. As a small city filled with history, the Birthday of Tin Hau . . .

【1:00】 . . . 當年屯門人嘅盛事嚟㗎 | 三月廿呀三嗰天后誕呢 | 到而家都有嘅 | 嗰日,响鄉事會路呢,係封閉嘅 | 呢個都係歷史性

● 盛事 sìhng4 sih6 = a grand occasion; a great event

. . . was a big occasion [盛事] for the people of Tun Men back in those days [當年]. The Birthday of Tin Hau on Day 23 of the third [lunar month] is still celebrated [有] to this day. Back then, Heung Sze Wui Road would be closed [to traffic]. This is all part of history [都係歷史性].

嗰個時代嘅屯門 | 唔可以唔提嘅就係交通問題啦 | // 巴士呢 | 嗰陣時冇屯門公路㗎 | 但係其實一個好荒蕪嘅地方嚟㗎 | 四周都沙塵滾滾㗎 | 响屯門大興邨我要返娘家 [嘅] | 起碼都要兩個鐘頭嘅車程 | 初初係覺得係唔方便 | 因爲 [要做] 「開荒牛」| 巴士路呀、一啲交通係真係好唔方便 | 以前呢,我初初搬 [入嚟] 屯門 | 每一個星期呢,成日心思思都係想出九龍逛街 | 就好似有一種回娘家嘅感覺 | 而家呢| 你叫我出逛呢 | 唔使啦,去邊度都一樣

● 沙塵滾滾 sāa1 chàhn4 gwán2 gwán2 = roughly, “sand & dust blowing around” | ● 車程 chē1 chìhng4 = transport journey (that is, the time a trip takes travelling by vehicle) | ● 開荒牛 hōi1 fōng1 ngàuh4 = a pioneer in a new field (lit., “an ox opens the wasteland”) | ● 心思思 sām1 sī1 sī1 = itch, longing | ● 逛街 kwaang3 gāai1 = to go window-shopping

Something I can’t refrain from mentioning [唔可以唔提] about the Tuen Mun of that era is the transport issue. Buses? There was no Tuen Mun Road at that time, and [Tuen Mun] was actually a very barren wilderness [好荒蕪嘅地方], with dust and sound blowing about everywhere. From the Tai Hing Estate in Tuen Mun, it took me at least two hours by bus [車程] to get to my parent’s place. At first, I thought how inconvenient it was because there were still no pioneers (to develop things). Bus routes and other [public] transport routes were really inconvenient. Before, when I first moved to Tuen Mun, every week I was always dying to get back to Kowloon to look at the shops. The feeling was the same as wanting to go back to my parents’ home. Now, if you asked me to go shopping with you [in Kowloon] there’s no need — everywhere you go it’s the same.

衆所周知 | 二十一世紀嘅屯門地標都係 V city 喇 【2:00】| 40 年前 | 嗰度係咩嚟㗎呢?| 原來佢嘅附近仲有好多出名嘅地方嘅 | 屯門而家西鐵站嗰個位置 | 就係以前嘅屯門嘅第一個屋邨,新發邨 | 嗰個位置就係轉變得大 [啦] | 以前係好荒蕪嘅。屯門係第一個公共屋邨呢,就係新發邨 | 但而家呢,嗰個地標呢,就係現今嘅屯門西鐵站 | V city

● 衆所周知 jung3 só2 jāu1 jī1 = as everyone knows; it is common knowledge that | ● 地標 deih6 bīu1 = landmark | ● 現今 yihn6 gām1 = nowadays; these days

As everyone knows, Tuen Mun’s [major] landmark of the 21st century is V city. What occupied that site 40 years ago? Originally, there were many outstanding places in the vicinity [of that site]. Where the Western Rail station is now, Tuen Mun’s first housing estate San Fat used to be. That location has gone through some major changes. Before, it was a barren wilderness. Tuen Mun’s first housing estate was a public one, San Fat. But now, that landmark is the present Tuen Mun Western Rail Station or V city.

而家嘅恆生銀行嘅地標呢 | 就係以前一間酒樓係,好出名| 嘉喜酒樓係兩曾式嘅 | 你去到屯門區一講嗰間酒樓名個個人都識嘅 | 地下呢,就係賣餅㗎 | 嗰陣時賣嗰啲嫁女餅 [呀]、賣嗰啲嘢㗎 | 或者人哋頂酒席 [呀], 响嗰度,呃,坐 [嘅] | 响度坐嘅地方 | 佢哋賣點心呢,噉啊冇車仔 [㗎] | 用個托盤,呃,有條咁嘅帶 *dáai3*2 孭住嚟賣㗎咋 | 係好古老,好古老嘅酒樓嚟㗎 【3:00】嗰個報紙檔呢,嗰個阿姐呀 | 佢嗰間酒樓開張賣報紙賣到而家㗎喇

● 嫁女餅 gaa3 néuih5 béng2 = dowry cake | ● 訂酒席 dehng6 jáu2 jihk6 = to book or reserve a banquet | ● 車仔 chē1 jái2 = (?) a (small) cart or trolley | ● 托盤 tok3 pún4*2= serving tray | ● 孭 mē1 = usu. to carry on the shoulders | ● 開張 hōi1 jēung1 = to open a business; to begin doing business

Another landmark, the [site of the] present Hang Seng Bank used to be a restaurant, and a very well-known one. The Ka Hei Restaurant (?) was a two-story place. If you paid a visit to the Tuen Mun district and you [mentioned] that restaurant to anyone, they would know it at once. In the basement, there was a cake shop. Back in those days, they sold dowry cakes and things like that. Or people could book a banquet there, there was seating where people could sit down. They sold dim sum, but they didn’t have trolleys. [Instead], they used trays with a strap on them that went around one shoulder to sell [the dim sum]. It went back a long way, that restaurant, a long way. That newspaper stand: the woman [who operates that] sold newspapers when the restaurant first started business and she’s still selling papers to this day.

噉究竟容納 | 屯門大部分人口嘅公共屋邨 | 發展嘅情況又係點嘅呢?| 青山醫院嗰 // 青山精神病院嗰度最先嘅 | 以前係一個好荒蕪嘅一條小路啦 | 入便係有人耕種嘅 | 噉之後呢,噉自從,呃,大興邨興建咗之後呢 | 又到友愛啦 | 安定啦 | 蝴蝶啦,同埋呢個 | 山景 [吖] | 同埋,呃,好多好多屋邨 | 兆康 [吖],嗰啲陸續陸續都起 [喇] | [噉有],呃,良景 [吖] | 新圍嗰啲 | 全部都係一個小山一個小山咁樣剷平 [咁樣嚟] 起屋邨 | 咁樣呢,[就] 到到呢,呃,人口到到某一個人數呀 | 佢先會有建立一間醫院嘅 | 噉就起咗一間屯門醫院

● 容納 yùhng4 naahp6/laahp6 = to hold; to have a capacity of; to accommodate | ● 耕種 gāang1 jung3 = to till; to cultivate | ● 陸續 luhk6 juhk6 = one after another; in succession | ● 剷平cháan2 pìhng4 = to level; perhaps also “to raze”

Note: The particle 呀 aa3 can be used when enumerating items, but here it sounds closer to a high-level tone, possibly written 吖 āa1 (?). However, I can’t find any support for this usage in my grammar books, so I may be wrong.

What was it like, the development of the public housing estates that house the bulk of Tuen Mun’s population? Where the Castle Peak Hospital, [UNCLEAR] the Castle Peak Psychiatric Hospital, there used to be a little neglected road [係一個好荒蕪嘅一條小路], and at the entrance to this road people grew vegetables [有人耕種]. Afterwards, from the time of the building of the Tai Hing Estate, [we had] the Yau Oi Estate, the On Ting Estate, Butterfly Estate, the Shan King Estate, many, many housing estates — Siu Hong — all those [estates] were built one after the other. [And then there is] the Leung King Estate and San Wai Court, all of them built with the levelling of one small mountain, then another small mountain. In that way, with the population reaching a certain size, they built a hospital, they built the Tuen Mun (Castle Peak) Hospital.

【4:00】而家領匯接受咗大部分嘅政府嘅屋邨 | 做咗街市 | 當然除咗有冷氣嘅感覺之外 | 我覺得係冇乜好處好講 | 以前嘅街市呢,係雖然係比較污糟啲、冇冷氣 | 噉但係呢,我哋要買啲乜嘢呢 | 或者街市裏邊邊一檔新鮮,邊一檔夠秤 | 呃,邊一檔嗰啲人士好相遇呢 | 我哋係好清楚嘅 | 以前嗰啲人情味係濃厚啲嘅

● 領匯 lìhng5 wuih6 = ? cf. 領 = to receive + 匯 = money | ● 夠秤 gau3 ching3 = to be of age (lit., “true to scale in weight”) cf. 唔夠秤 m4 gau3 cing3  = underweight  | ● 濃厚 nùhng4 háuh5 = strong; pronounced

Now, the majority of government housing estates have received funding [領匯] to set up [做咗] wet markets. Naturally, apart from air-conditioning, I don’t think there’s much one can say about them. Although the markets of the past were dirtier and did not have air-conditioning, when it came to doing the shopping, we knew exactly which stalls were the freshest [邊一檔新鮮], which ones gave correct weight, and at which ones it was easiest to get on with the staff. In those days, the human feeling was more pronounced.

鍾意,鍾意㗎 | 我好鍾意屯門區

I like it, I do! I am very fond of the Tuen Mun District.


Director: 金川翔 | 翔 chèuhng4 = to circle in the air
Producer: 張庭軒 | 軒 hīn1 = high; lofty
Photography: 金川翔、張庭軒、姚毅榛 | 榛 jēun1 = hazel


3 thoughts on “Learning Cantonese: 舊情 ● 屯門 or A Past Love for Tuen Mun

  1. Thank you for sharing these two videos. I only recognized a little bit of Lam Ti from the first video. I I know all the stories telling from the old lady in the second video. My best friend lived in Sun Fat Estate before it was demolished. I remember all the construction sites like Tai Hing Estate, Yau Oi, On Ting, and Siu Hong. I remember Tsing Shan hospital 9Castle Peak Hospital) where the school bus stopped everyday to pick up my elementary classmates.

    ***Tuen Mun Hospital and Castle Peak hospital are two different hospitals where the later one is a psychiatric hospital with very long history. They are not far apart from each other. ***

    One question here. Do you write the script by yourself or you use an app to convert it from audio to characters first? I’ve looking for podcasts or video in Cantonese about travel. Do you know any abut this topic? I would like a speaker with clear articulation in Cantonese. Thanks in advance.

    Yes, hoeng2 (preposition at, in) is an older word for hai2. I think some old Cantonese textbooks (published in 70’s or even older) used this preposition instead. I’m glad she didn’t say “ni1 syu3” (here), “bin1 syu3” (where) that are the terms used by my father’s generation.

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    1. Dear Editor Devil: Many thanks for all your very helpful comments. I recommend Alfred Chan’s videos, usually combining travel & food. Here is one about South Korea with subtitles at:

      I key everything in by hand, using 漢語拼音. I have a list of “Common Cantonese Characters” which I paste into my typing as I need them. I listen and type at the same time: a slow process, but one that suits me.
      Thanks again! I will let you know if I find any other good travel video sites. Simon

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      1. Hi Simon, thank you for your prompt reply. I’ll watch the one you recommended. I transcribe the Cantonese audio to Chinese character (and Cantonese character) first and convert them into Jyutping via an online app which saves me a lot of time. I can write Cantonese in Jyutping if I want. I type Chinese very fast, almost the same speed as I write. But it’s still very time consuming. I’m very impressed by your transcription. Keep up the good work!

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