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Hunger eventually brings us back to the pier and the welcoming smile of Wing Gei. A pot of soup is produced, thick with vegetables and ginger, followed by a plate of chickens' feet and, after that, the speciality of Kat O, cuttlefish balls. This combination of moulded pork fat and thick white cuttlefish takes some chewing but, served in a good broth of spring onions, is delicious. Our little group slurps and burps happily. And then the boatman drums his fingers on the table and smiles. Island time is running out. Gei says we are welcome to stay, but he knows we cannot and accepts our refusal with a sad shrug. "I promise you I will be back," I tell him. I will Mr Gei. I most definitely will.

Originally published May 2009

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The article ‘Where worlds collide’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.

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