HYPEBEAST Eats: Boomshack (Hong Kong)

As Art Central and Art Basel descend upon Hong Kong next week, will it become Asia’s arts hub?

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The ‘Umbrella Man’ statue, shown here at a pro-democracy protest site in Hong Kong in October, is one example of locally produced art inspired by the city’s civic unrest.

Wall Street Journal (by Wei Gu): 

Once ridiculed as a cultural desert, Hong Kong is now a major destination on the global art circuit.

Next week alone the city will see two art fairs: A new fair, Art Central, debuts March 14-16, while Art Basel Hong Kong, the most important annual art event in Asia, will open March 13, featuring more than 230 galleries from 37 countries.

Buying and selling art fits perfectly with the city’s history as a trading center. But Hong Kong’s local art scene—the one in which local people actually make and enjoy art—has been slower to develop. The Occupy Central protests that paralyzed parts of the city for nearly three months last fall has given Hong Kong a creative boost.

The protests resulted in a number of dramatic images, including umbrellas that protesters used to fend off police pepper spray and the iconic 10-foot “Umbrella Man” sculpture. Before police dismantled the protest sites in December, there was a major effort to preserve the art that had been created.

Hong Kong Arts Center director Connie Lam says social tension is a nutrient for art making. Cosmin Costinas, executive director and curator of Para Site, a nonprofit art space in Hong Kong run by independent artists, agrees. “An active civil society with different ideas is a much more interesting place for diverse art to develop than a closed society where the king decides he wants to build a museum,” said Mr. Costinas.

The burst of creativity could transform Hong Kong from an art marketplace to an arts center akin to New York or Paris. Cities like these have thriving artists’ communities, famous museums, respected art schools and a wide range of galleries. Until recently the art scene in Hong Kong was dominated by high-end auctions and top international galleries, but that is changing with a new art museum under construction and a wave of new galleries.

Hong Kong is now the world’s third-largest art market by auction sales. The total number of galleries in the city has grown from about 10 before 2000 to more than 90 now, according to Hong Kong Art Galleries Association. Western dealers such as Gagosian, White Cube, and Ben Brown Fine Arts have opened galleries in Hong Kong in recent years.

People don’t pay taxes on art in the city, which gives it a huge advantage over nearly every other Asian city. Despite Hong Kong’s notoriously high rent and small spaces, selling paintings can be very profitable. Lehmann Maupin, a New York-based gallery, expected its Hong Kong gallery in the Central business district to break even in two years. It was profitable in the first year, said founder Rachel Lehmann.

Hong Kong has been recognized as the international Asian art hub,” said Adeline Ooi, Asia director for Art Basel. “Ten years ago it wasn’t the case, now it is very pronounced.”

Meanwhile, local interest in art has lagged behind. When Spring Workshop exhibited a work by top Chinese filmmaker Yang Fudong a few years ago, it had a hard time attracting visitors. The nonprofit art organization sent young women with hot chocolate into the street to bring in visitors, but they still couldn’t convince people to come see the art.

I am glad that we don’t have that problem anymore, it still makes me cry that we have these beautiful artworks but people don’t want to come to see,” said Ms. Brown, founder of Spring Workshop, located in Wong Chuk Hang, a former industrial town in Hong Kong. The gallery now regularly brings in 800 people a day for its shows.

One of the most memorable visitors, Ms. Brown recalls, was a 60-year old lady who showed up on a Tuesday with two friends wearing backpacks and sneakers. The woman said she had been reading about contemporary art and came to check out the arts space with her fellow retirees. Since then she has returned for several events. “Hong Kong is now ready for a lot more deeper engagement with culture,” said Ms. Brown.

The city has many students studying music and art—some schools even require students to play two musical instruments—but people treat art as something that isn’t accessible by ordinary people. Parents rarely take their children to museums—partly because hasn’t been much to see. M+, the visual-arts museum scheduled for completion in 2018 in the West Kowloon district, should help by giving the city a world-class exhibition space with an important collection.

As the global collecting world descends on Hong Kong next week, bringing with it art valued from hundreds to millions of dollars, it will give residents lots to be inspired by. Two local arts communities will hold their own events to draw in the visitors.

There is at least one show dedicated to the Occupy movement. Kacey Wong, a Hong Kong-born artist, will exhibit photographs in a show called Art of the Protest. For visitors who look closely at the city’s overpasses and sidewalks, stenciled images of umbrellas can still be spotted, the last remnants of the art created during the protests.

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A visitor looked at an art installation at last year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong.

The Floating City: Inside Hong Kong Now

View of Hong Kong from Lion Rock, which overlooks Kowloon from the North, November 2011. Almost half of Hong Kong’s population lives in public or government-subsidized housing. Lit up at night, the glowing public estate blocks are hard to distinguish from high-end luxury towers.

View of Hong Kong from Lion Rock, which overlooks Kowloon from the North, November 2011. Almost half of Hong Kong’s population lives in public or government-subsidized housing. Lit up at night, the glowing public estate blocks are hard to distinguish from high-end luxury towers.

 

ChinaFile:

Hong Kong rose up as the essential gateway into Communist China over the second half of the twentieth century—a British-run laissez-faire playground whose bottom-line pragmatism proved lucrative for all, maintaining a fluid, delicate balance between East and West, socialism and capitalism, the ancient and the hypermodern, legitimate society and the underworld.

In the 1997 return to a booming Motherland, official blurbage promised to continue this function, assuring “One Country, Two Systems” and “Hong Kong will remain unchanged for fifty years,” a showcase of Beijing’s good-faith efforts to foster democracy and rule of law. Fifteen years on, however, continued lack of universal suffrage and fading relevance are provoking local anxiety that Hong Kong is becoming just another freedom-deficient Chinese city.

Beneath the designer skyline and the gleaming hordes of suits and shoppers, we see mounting disquiet. Hong Kong’s rich-poor gap is the highest in the developed world. Nearly half the population lives in government-subsidized housing. Even gangsters complain that the scramble for scraps has displaced triad virtue and loyalty; a former enforcer from the organized crime group Sun Yee On said, “It’s more of a business for profit now.”

China’s presence has ratcheted up the economic pressure as well as the political. Hong Kongers once looked down on visiting Chinese nationals. Now, dependent on their spending power, they resentfully call them “locusts” for devouring real estate, luxury goods, and maternity beds. Meanwhile, news reports critical of China are disappearing, and schools are being “urged” to adopt patriotic, Party-whitewashed history texts.

This is the landscape of imbalance and unease in a Hong Kong that—after more than a decade and a half of Communist rule—is trying to preserve a unique identity that is both more cosmopolitan and more traditionally Chinese than China itself.

The Mongkok district in Kowloon is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the world, known for its underworld controlled nightlife.

The Mongkok district in Kowloon is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the world, known for its underworld controlled nightlife.

The dashboard of a “discount taxi” displays trinkets, charms, official placards, and several extra mobile phones mounted in view, connecting the driver to various dispatching syndicates who book discount long-haul fares to undercut the traditional first-come-first-serve rule.

The dashboard of a “discount taxi” displays trinkets, charms, official placards, and several extra mobile phones mounted in view, connecting the driver to various dispatching syndicates who book discount long-haul fares to undercut the traditional first-come-first-serve rule.

The downtown central district is the center of international finance and commerce and <em>Gweilo</em> (“foreign devil”) culture.

The downtown Central district is the center of international finance and commerce and Gweilo (“foreign devil”) culture.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company, headquartered in a Norman Foster-designed post-modern cathedral-to-capital structure that was built in 1986, is arguably, a quarter of a century later, the most powerful non-government institution in the city. Hong Kong’s traditionally dominant financial infrastructure continues to thrive as the balance of wealth and deals increasingly comes from Chinese interests.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company, headquartered in a Norman Foster-designed post-modern cathedral-to-capital structure that was built in 1986, is arguably, a quarter of a century later, the most powerful non-government institution in the city. Hong Kong’s traditionally dominant financial infrastructure continues to thrive as the balance of wealth and deals increasingly comes from Chinese interests.

A street scene of the Sham Shui Po district, December 2011.

A street scene of the Sham Shui Po district, December 2011.

Wong Tai Sin Temple, a Taoist place of worship known for fortunetelling, is popular among Chinese tourists, who make up about seventy percent of its visitors. On this day, December 10, 2011—the day before the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races at Shatin horse track—the temple also draws in many gamblers looking for betting picks.

Wong Tai Sin Temple, a Taoist place of worship known for fortunetelling, is popular among Chinese tourists, who make up about seventy percent of its visitors. On this day, December 10, 2011—the day before the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races at Shatin horse track—the temple also draws in many gamblers looking for betting picks.

Mall stalls crammed with whimsical toys and doodads, mostly all made in China, are ready to be peddled for the right price, December 22, 2011.

Mall stalls crammed with whimsical toys and doodads, mostly all made in China, are ready to be peddled for the right price.

A candlelight memorial in Victoria Park, February 27, 2011, for democracy activist Szeto Wah, who died at the age of seventy-nine. Under China’s one country, two systems policy, Hong Kong citizens enjoy free speech, but voting rights are limited.

A candlelight memorial in Victoria Park, February 27, 2011, for democracy activist Szeto Wah, who died at the age of seventy-nine. Under China’s one country, two systems policy, Hong Kong citizens enjoy free speech, but voting rights are limited.

High above street level, a bird’s-eye view of Mongkok district belies order and stillness, though the Guinness World Records has labeled this district as the world’s busiest.

High above street level, a bird’s-eye view of Mongkok district belies order and stillness, though the Guinness World Records has labeled this district as the world’s busiest.

A potential customer shops for Chanel’s new J12 Chromatic titanium ceramic watch at the company’s launch party, June 9, 2011. These watches run in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of U.S. dollars.

A potential customer shops for Chanel’s new J12 Chromatic titanium ceramic watch at the company’s launch party. These watches run in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of U.S. dollars.

At a party for Chanel’s new line of watches. In Hong Kong, where expensive tastes and luxury goods continue to fire the economy, today’s biggest spenders now come from the mainland, putting locals in the uncomfortable position of being dependent on the visitors who not long ago they considered unsophisticated bumpkins.

At a party for Chanel’s new line of watches. In Hong Kong, where expensive tastes and luxury goods continue to fire the economy, today’s biggest spenders now come from the mainland, putting locals in the uncomfortable position of being dependent on the visitors who not long ago they considered unsophisticated bumpkins.

In the restricted section of the Happy Valley racetrack, Hong Kong Jockey Club members and horse owners can see the animals up close between races. The Jockey Club, along with being the city’s center of gambling and society, is the largest single taxpayer and a major supporter of charity in Hong Kong.

In the restricted section of the Happy Valley racetrack, Hong Kong Jockey Club members and horse owners can see the animals up close between races. The Jockey Club, along with being the city’s center of gambling and society, is the largest single taxpayer and a major supporter of charity in Hong Kong.

“J,” a former factory accountant from Northeast China, poses for a photo in her current workspace, a legal one-woman/one-room brothel on Hong Kong Island, in the summer of 2011. In just a few years, “J” had saved enough money to buy two apartments on the mainland, and she is currently planning to buy another property in Hong Kong where  the sex trade is legal.

“J,” a former factory accountant from Northeast China, poses for a photo in her current workspace, a legal one-woman/one-room brothel on Hong Kong Island, in the summer of 2011. In just a few years, “J” had saved enough money to buy two apartments on the mainland, and she is currently planning to buy another property in Hong Kong where the sex trade is legal.

Actors playing a mainland gangster boss and two of his bodyguards rest between scenes of the Johnnie To film <em>Life Without Principle</em>.

Actors playing a mainland gangster boss and two of his bodyguards rest between scenes of the Johnnie To film Life Without Principle.

At Asia Game Show at Wan Chai Convention Center, young people dress up as their favorite video game and animation characters as they participate in the cosplay competition.

At Asia Game Show at Wan Chai Convention Center, young people dress up as their favorite video game and animation characters as they participate in the cosplay competition.

Artists act out in street performances commemorating the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that ended in a bloody crackdown. A young man covered himself in sticky memo note paper that he had invited other artists and passers-by to inscribe with messages of protest, mostly to the Chinese government and their handpicked Hong Kong leadership. Among the messages inscribed: “Free China,” “End Totalitarianism,” “Release Activists,” “Don’t Be a Slave—Remember June 4,” “Investigate the Massacre,” and “Democracy Forever.” China’s tolerance is wearing thin, but the adherence to the one country, two systems policy still allows the freedom for such expression in Hong Kong. If this were in China, these artist likely would already be in prison.

Artists act out in street performances commemorating the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that ended in a bloody crackdown. A young man covered himself in sticky memo note paper that he had invited other artists and passers-by to inscribe with messages of protest, mostly to the Chinese government and their handpicked Hong Kong leadership. Among the messages inscribed: “Free China,” “End Totalitarianism,” “Release Activists,” “Don’t Be a Slave—Remember June 4,” “Investigate the Massacre,” and “Democracy Forever.” China’s tolerance is wearing thin, but the adherence to the one country, two systems policy still allows the freedom for such expression in Hong Kong. If this were in China, these artist likely would already be in prison.

Sun Yee On, a retired “red pole” enforcer for the organized crime triad, parted ways with the triad peacefully several years ago, but still has the phoenix-tailed dragon tattoo hidden under his shirt. “Back in the old days,” he says, “it was all about heart—about righteousness and virtue. Now it is more of a business for profit.” Criminal gang activity, though still present in Hong Kong, is decreasing as triads pursue more lucrative activities of varying degrees of legality across the border in China.

Sun Yee On, a retired “red pole” enforcer for the organized crime triad, parted ways with the triad peacefully several years ago, but still has the phoenix-tailed dragon tattoo hidden under his shirt. “Back in the old days,” he says, “it was all about heart—about righteousness and virtue. Now it is more of a business for profit.” Criminal gang activity, though still present in Hong Kong, is decreasing as triads pursue more lucrative activities of varying degrees of legality across the border in China.

An ad for a Chinese movie above an alleyway in the Tsim Sha Tsui district.

An ad for a Chinese movie above an alleyway in the Tsim Sha Tsui district.

Security cameras eye the traffic in Chungking Mansions, a seventeen-story hive of market stalls, restaurants, and cheap lodging where global traders do business. Indians, Nigerians, and Pakistanis all show up, buying made-in-China goods to sell back home. This block of grungy apartments has been called “The Ghetto at the Center of the World” by Hong Kong University professor Gordon Matthews, who says that the phone dealers, curry shops, sex workers, flophouse travelers, and asylum seekers from over 130 different nations engage in myriad daily micro-exchanges and that this is real world globalization in action.

Security cameras eye the traffic in Chungking Mansions, a seventeen-story hive of market stalls, restaurants, and cheap lodging where global traders do business. Indians, Nigerians, and Pakistanis all show up, buying made-in-China goods to sell back home. This block of grungy apartments has been called “The Ghetto at the Center of the World” by Hong Kong University professor Gordon Matthews, who says that the phone dealers, curry shops, sex workers, flophouse travelers, and asylum seekers from over 130 different nations engage in myriad daily micro-exchanges and that this is real world globalization in action.
A shanty town of corrugated metal shacks atop a Kwun Tong factory building. Hong Kong’s overwhelming density (6782.9 people per square kilometer in 2010) and lack of affordable housing mean that even such crummy homes can charge unexpectedly high rent.
A shanty town of corrugated metal shacks atop a Kwun Tong factory building. Hong Kong’s overwhelming density (6782.9 people per square kilometer in 2010) and lack of affordable housing mean that even such crummy homes can charge unexpectedly high rent.

 

MADNESS (Hong Kong) 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Image of MADNESS 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Shawn Yue is no new name to Hong Kong’s entertainment industry. A quick glance at his replete resume shows Yue’s impressive tenure in film, yet the model-tuned-actor recently embarked on a new journey within fashion, taking to his streetwear imprint MADNESS to exercise another side of his creativity.

For 2014 fall/winter, Yue presents a bold collection of comfortable and stylish designs. Varsity jackets, snapbacks and hoodies boast simple graphics and collegiate fonts, while all-over prints and camouflage take on anoraks and other season-appropriate pieces to combat the change in weather. Check out a preview of MADNESS 2014 fall/winter range here and if you’re in Hong Kong, look for it at the MADNESS pop-up store in Sohofama.

 

Sohofama
Unit SG09-SG14, G/F., Block A,
PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central
Hong Kong

 

Image of MADNESS 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Image of MADNESS 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Image of MADNESS 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Image of MADNESS 2014 Fall/Winter Lookbook

Hong Kong protest 2014: Umbrella Revolution timeline

On September 22, the Hong Kong Federation of Students mobilized up to 10,000 students to boycott class with hundreds of teachers voluntarily joining the strike and lecturing at the rally.

The protesters voiced strong discontent with Beijing’s late August decree that all future candidates for position of chief executive be screened and approved by a pro-Beijing nominating committee.

On September 26, the 5th day of the strike, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung remained firm in refusing to negotiate with the students. Four thousand students and citizens then surrounded the Government House.

At midnight, led by 17-year-old student leader Joshua Wong, the protesters charged the government headquarters. The clash ended with 61 protesters arrested by police, who fended off the crowds with pepper spray.

By September 27, the crowd had swelled to 50,000 people who remained outside government headquarters, demanding that arrested students be released.

On September 28, 60,000 protesters took to the streets. The government quickly condemned the movement as illegal and 7000 riot police were dispatched to attempt and disperse the protests, firing 78 tear gas canisters into the unarmed crowds.

In the early morning hours of September 29, the “Occupy Central” movement had extended its operations into Admiralty, Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, as 100,000 citizens came out to condemn the violent police response to peaceful protesters.

After umbrellas were used to fend off tear gas from riot police the foreign media officially dubbed the uprising, the ‘Umbrella Revolution.’

On the night of September 30 heavy downpours put the umbrellas to good use as the number of protesters rose to more than 100,000, forming what they named a “Democracy Plaza” in the districts of Admiralty, Mongkok and Causeway Bay.

Despite the swelling crowds, Chief Executive CY Leung made it clear he had no intention of heeding the people’s call for him to resign.

On October 2, the Hong Kong Federation of Students called on citizens to occupy government buildings, only then did the authorities finally agree to talks about policy reform.

On October 3, triad gangsters attacked pro-democracy protesters in Mongkok, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. The Federation of Students denounced the government for standing by idly while thugs beat peaceful protesters and called on its members fight to the end.

Link

10 unforgettable Hong Kong experiences…

Check out this list of the best of Hong Kong, compiled by a contributor on CNN who happens to be a Hong Konger.

Whether you have a week or a day, mix and match these top city experiences for an unforgettable trip. 

1. Victoria Harbour, up close

Sit back, relax, stare.The Hong Kong skyline is stunning and there are many ways to take in the view, from a rooftop bar or the touristy Peak Galleria.

But the best way to take it all in is from a Star Ferry.

The green-bottomed ferries have been taking passengers across the harbor since the late 1800s. The ride between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui takes less than 10 minutes, but it’s what many visitors remember most fondly about their trip to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Central/Tsim Sha Tsui service runs daily from 6:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Fares from HK$2.50 (US 30 cents). MTR: Central

2. Temple Street market

Temple Street fortune tellers usually charge around HKD$100 (US$13) to read a palm and face.This is the place to go fulfill all your exotic fantasies of Hong Kong. Everything here looks old, filthy and somewhat threatening — in other words, perfect.

A spread of laneways is filled with all manners of trinkets, the more useless they are the more we seem to desire them.

In another section of the market, a community of fortune tellers and tarot card readers gather. Most are swindlers; a handful are the real thing.

A public toilet in a Temple Street market corner is known for gathering junkies. Around another bend, vendors are selling cartloads of cheap sex toys.

Street food — hot, fresh, of questionable hygiene and totally irresistible — beckons. Neighboring the eateries are old school karaoke parlors where HK$100 (US$13) gets you access to center stage, a live band and an audience of geriatric regulars who have been attending nightly for decades.

Getting there: Take the MTR to Jordan and take exit A. Turn right onto Jordan Road and walk three blocks to Temple Street. The market is open from around 4 p.m. till midnight.  

3. Food challenges

No family Sunday dim sum meal is complete without the sight of grandma carefully working her mouth around a chicken foot.There comes a point when every visitor to Hong Kong has to confront his or her food phobias. Whether it’s bones, heads of animals or food that smells like garbage, it’s likely that you’ll find it on your plate and you won’t know what to do with it.

But the thing about these foods that initially makes a person recoil is that there’s nothing challenging about their flavors.

The gateway “weird food” is chicken feet dim sum. The claws are typically chopped up so they heap into a neat little pile and are served in a cute bamboo steam basket. It’s all very civilized.

Even the name is euphemized to “phoenix talons.” Get past the idea of it being feet and you’ve got one of the most delicious things to eat on the planet.

Highly recommended are the abalone sauce chicken feet at Lei Gardens.

Lei Gardens, Shop 2068-70, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2196 8133, www.leigarden.hk

 

4. Nature shock

Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung. One of the biggest surprises about Hong Kong is that pristine nature exists just minutes away from the most crowded parts of the city.

It’s possible to do a daytrip — even a half-day trip — to a beach or mountain for a verdant time out.

The best journey is the one-hour hike from the entrance of Sai Kung Country Park to a string of isolated beaches, inaccessible except by boat or by foot.

Tai Long Wan is our favorite for the large expanse of clean sand, building-free sea view and a small eatery serving cold beer and fried things.

Walk Hong Kong runs organized walking tours that depart from Hong Kong’s General Post Office, 2 Connaught Place, Central. See Hong Kong Tourism Board for more info.

5. Nightly Mardi Gras

We recently took an American visitor to Lan Kwai Fong on a Monday night. The crowds floored him. “This is like Mardi Gras,” he said.

He was saying it for dramatic effect, but Lan Kwai Fong really is the place to go to see Hong Kong’s work-hard-play-hard ethos stemming from the high-pressure-big-money lifestyle of investment bankers, stock brokers and entrepreneurs, of which the city has plenty.

The weekends, of course, are completely mad. Bypass the cover-charging, velvet-roped nightclubs and head to the dance bars along Wyndham Street and D’Aguilar Street. (MTR: Central, exit D2)

You’ll find that roadside binge drinking is the norm, people really like to dance and that you do know the words to all the songs. It’s mainstream nightlife at its best.

6. Learn the meaning of “density”

Mong Kok. Not for the claustrophobic. Mong Kok. Saturday afternoon. Shopping. Brace yourself for one of the most overwhelming examples of population density.

Literally meaning “prosperous and crowded corner,” Mong Kok (MTR: Mong Kok) is where everyone goes to buy stuff and feel the energy of hundreds of thousands of people going about their business.

A look at the various markets in Mong Kok is also telling of Hong Kong people’s passions. There’s the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street, east of Nathan Road. Cheap fashion, knock-offs and trinkets dominate here.

Then there’s the Mongkok Computer Centre as well as Sneakers Street on Fa Yuen Street and Goldfish market on Tung Choi Street and Bute Street. For trendy junk food, there’s Dundas Street.

7. Prodigal floating restaurant

Shun Kee diners are picked up at the Causeway Bay pier in a private boat and rowed out to the floating kitchen.Shun Kee is a floating restaurant made up of wooden boats in Causeway Bay’s typhoon shelter, a protective area for vessels during a storm.

There used to be thousands of boat dwellers settled in the typhoon shelter. The community was tight and developed its own subculture.

From the early 1960s to end of the 1980s, the shelter thrived as a floating nightlife hub. Then it disappeared due to hygiene problems and changing consumer trends.

Shun Kee is the first floating restaurant to return. It opened last year and serves the same tasty, rustic recipes from decades ago, showcasing the chef’s wok skills. It’s unchanged from the glory days of the shelter.

Located at the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter, near the pedestrian footbridge connected to Victoria Park, +852 8112 0075.

 

8. Strange fruit

A fruit market sounds innocuous enough, but the wholesale fruit market in Yau Ma Tei is the opposite of sweet and fresh. Known as disputed territory between triad groups, the market has been witness to gang fighting and has an unsavory rep. But it’s OK for tourists to visit.

Coming alive at four in the morning daily, the market is populated by tough-looking big guys with lots of tattoos, each holding a stern expression as they charge down the corridors pushing small mountains of fruit boxes.

The market building itself is a historic landmark. The two-story structure dates to 1913 and looks it. Weathered signboards and crumbling Chinese architectural flourishes abound, with plenty of darkly lit corners, rusty folding gates from the 1950s and a pervasive smell of fresh and rotting fruit.

All of this makes the Yau Ma Tei fruit market one of the most atmospheric and photogenic places in Hong Kong.

Getting there: Take the MTR to Yau Ma Tei Station and head out exit A2. 

9. Pig out

Tasty, but high in saturated fat. Char siu is best consumed in moderation.We love pork. It’s estimated that Hong Kong people consume10,000 pigs a day. That kind of makes us a city of pork experts.

Bacon? Too greasy and too easy. The kind of pork that we love here can’t be cooked at home. You need huge ovens, you need generations of expertise, you need days of prep and you need secret ingredients.

There are two kinds of pork dishes to check out in Hong Kong.

Barbecue pork, called char siu, is a tender and moist piece of meat with a honeyed red-colored glaze. The best can be found at Joy Hing Roasted Meats in Wanchai. We recommend the half-fatty, half-skinny char siu. Joy Hing is closed on Sundays.

The second kind is roast pork. When done right, this dish will change your life. Layers of flavorful, briny pork are chopped into bite-sized pieces. The skin is crisped — perfect pork crackling. Most Cantonese restaurants have a version of it.

Joy Hing, 265-267 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, +852 2519 6639

10. Bet on fun

Happy Valley. Happy endings not guaranteed.Whether it’s at the Sunday afternoon mahjong table with grandma or in the luxury property market, gambling is a big pastime in Hong Kong.

The best place to witness the passion of punters is at the Happy Valley horse race nights. We have another track at Shatin, but the Happy Valley one is the original and most picturesque.

Races take place from September to June every Wednesday night from about 7-11 p.m. The track is lit up and ringed by residential building tower blocks. Dark hills loom beyond. It’s so Hong Kong.

While there are plenty of hard core gamblers here, there’s also a younger crowd that comes to enjoy the beer garden. All are none the wiser at picking a winner.

Happy Valley Race Course: 2 Sports Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong Island 

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