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Mid-levels magazine

December 2016


! s a m t s i r h C y er r

our y r o f de i s n i k Loo

Adventures in Lapland

We visit Santa’s grotto

de i u g e festiv

Christmas dinner

Dine in or dine out, we’ve got you covered


merry things to do


Mid-levels magazine

The really useful magazine December 2016

PEOPLE 4 Snapped! Life around Mid-levels. THE PLANNER 6 Happening in December Events for your diary. NEWS 10 What’s going on? In your backyard. FIVE MINUTES WITH... 14 Norma Chu The founder of bilingual Cantonese recipe website Day Day Cook. LOCAL 16 Parking mania Car parking spaces in Mid-levels have reached record prices.

INTERVIEW 18 We chat to... Claire Yates, founder of The Lion Rock Press. COVER STORY 20 Christmas A-Z Your guide to the festive season. SPECIAL FEATURE 26 Above Hong Kong Behind the scenes at our aerial photoshoot. EATING 30 Festive food Eating out and turkeys to go. ARTS & CULTURE 38 The Nutcracker We chat to the choreographer behind this Christmas classic. Plus Hong Kong shop cats.

HOME & LIVING 42 Style it right Festive styling tips. An interview with Sir David Tang. Plus, how to do Sham Shui Po. EDUCATION 50 Victoria Shanghai Academy Rebecca Simpson takes a tour. TRAVEL 54 Adventures in Lapland We visit Santa. PETS 60 Walkies We meet Jasper and his dog, Kabu. SECRETS 64 St. John’s Cathedral Hong Kong’s oldest surviving cathedral.cathedral.




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DEC 4 & 11

Classics for Kids Christmas Concert

The SAR Philharmonic Orchestra’s 15th annual interactive concert introduces children to classical music and lets them try out the instruments too. 2.15pm and 5pm, Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai. Tickets from $295 from, 3128 8288.

DEC 1 The Fayre of St. John’s

DEC 4 Hong Kong Corporate Sevens

Raise fund for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre at the magnificent St. John’s Cathedral with an evening of carols, mince pies, mulled wine and performances from some of Hong Kong’s noted celebrities and singers. Tickets start from $2,500 and can be purchased by making a direct donation to Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre.

Suits play sevens. The 2016 tournament has set their sights on raising $1 million for The Deaf Rugby Programme. Free entry. 9am-8pm. So Kon Po Recreation Field, 55 Caroline Hill Road,

DEC 8-12 Disney on Ice Join all your favourite Disney characters from Minnie and Mickey to Dory, Timon and Pumba in a dazzling performance on ice. Performance lasts two hours with a 15 minute intermission. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai. Tickets from $280-$680 from or call 3128 8288.


DEC 16-25

The Nutcracker

The annual performance by the Hong Kong Ballet never fails to impress. Read our interview with choreographer Terence Kohler on page 38. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tickets from $180 at

happening in December DEC 11 & 23-24 The Snowman & the Bear Watch Raymond Briggs’ heartwarming Christmas classics on the big screen with a live orchestral accompaniment, narration and singing. Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium on December 11 and Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall on December 23-24.

UNTIL FEB 12 AIA Christmas Carnival Roll up, roll up! The AIA Great European Carnival returns to Central Harbourfront. Attracting more than one million visitors last year, the carnival will once again play host to fairground rides, games, dance shows, pantomimes and magicians. More than one million cuddly toys are there to be won! Tickets start at $90 for children and $125 for adults. More information at

DEC 8-JAN 22 Wicked

UNTIL DEC 14 French Film Festival 2016

The spellbinding musical, which has cast its magic on more than 50 million theatre goers worldwide, takes to the stage at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, find out how the wicked witch of the west became so wonderfully wicked. Tickets from $445 at, 3128 8288.

A showcase of some of the finest French cinema brought to you by the Alliance Française de Hong Kong. Tickets go quickly so book in advance.

DEC 10-11 Hamelin The Drama School HK Company brings you the original musical play, Hamelin. A touching tale of forgone futures, set in a child refugee detention centre on the border between two countries, the young inhabitants embark on a performance of The Pied Piper to alleviate boredom and as a distraction from their increasingly difficult circumstances. Hamelin will grace the stage of West Island School’s auditorium on 10 December at 6pm, and on 11 December at 12pm and 6pm. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketflap,

DEC 14 Bill Bailey, Larks in Transit British comedian, musician and actor Bill Bailey performs his brand new show - Larks in Transit - in Hong Kong. Larks in Transit delves into Bill’s 20 years of life as a travelling comedian and all the shenanigans along the way. 8pm at Kitec Rotunda 3, Kowloon Bay. Tickets from $488 at



Hong Kong’s festive offerings include the Pulse 3D Light Show and the classic Statue Square Cristmas tree. Look out for special appearances by Santa Claus and friends while a Christmas choir will serenade the crowds with festive carols. This year lovebirds can buy a lock for charity and hang it to the railings for posterity too.

DEC 11 & 14-18 Hong Kong Players Pantomime Hong Kong Players have been staging Christmas pantos in Hong Kong for the past 54 years. The group’s 55th panto - The Snow Queen - an icy take of love and hate, good and evil, courage and cowardice, and trolls! Performances on December 11 and 14-18 at Kellett School Theatre, Kowloon Bay. Concession tickets from $250 and adults tickets from $270 at More details at



BOOK NOW JAN 5 - FEB 12 Kidsfest 2017

FEB 3-5 Legends in Concert


The biggest children’s theatre festival returns for another year of fun-filled performances at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. One production not to miss is Gruffalos, Ladybirds and other Beasts which will feature Julia Donaldson herself live on stage. Tickets available at or call 3128 8288.

The live celebrity tribute show features an allstar cast of Elvis Presley, Adele, David Bowie and Madonna direct from Las Vegas to The Parisian, Macau. Running for 33 years, Legends in Concert is Las Vegas’ longest-running live entertainment show. Tickets $180-$480 from, 3128 8288.

A boy. A girl. Two rival gangs. One fatal love affair. Inspired by Shakespeare’s tumultuous love story Romeo and Juliet, , WEST SIDE STORY’s ground-breaking choreography and score changed the face of musical theatre when it burst onto Broadway in 1957. Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Wan Chai. Tickets $445-$995 from, 3128 8288.

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A vanishing neighbourhood? Photographer William Furniss and the Sovereign Art Foundation have teamed up to publish Queen’s Road West, the vanishing neighbourhood. Launching on December 7 at Galerie Huit in Sheung Wan, the book attempts to document the rapid change seen on Queen’s Road West amidst rocketing rents and a gradual gentrification of the area. Sparked into action by the removal of restaurant Sammy’s Kitchen’s neon cow sign, Howard Bilton of the Sovereign Art Foundation contacted Furniss to photograph and document the changes before it was too late. Proceeds from the book and the accompanying exhibition will go to the Sovereign Art Foundation and benefit underprivileged children in Hong Kong and Asia.


Coffee Academics opens in Lan Kwai Fong Popular coffee shop chain Coffee Academics has opened its newest branch in the heart of Central, Lan Kwai Fong. The two-floor opencoffee bar and kitchen concept features an array of brand new coffee brews alongside the chain’s established single origin coffees, cold brews and nitro coffee. The new Central store marks the sixth opening in Hong Kong from the group since its debut in 2012. G/F, 24 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central.


How to do Hong Kong

New play at The Fringe Club

Know somebody new to Hong Kong? This new travel sketchbook is perfect for the coffee table and will make a great Christmas gift for anyone new in town. Written and illustrated by Hong Kong journalist Lena Sin and her artist husband Nicholas Tay, the book is packed with tales of growing up in Hong Kong. Watercolour illustrations and photographs brighten the pages, taking the reader from the wet markets of North Point to the sleepy island backwater of Tai O. Chapters include “Go slow in Sheung Wan”, “Find Magic in Stanley” and “Step Back in Time in Tai O”. $198, available at

Hong Kong-based director Candice Moore brings The Elephant Song to The Fringe Club following a successful run in London. The play is a cautionary tale of an institutionalised young man who plays those around him off against each other, punctuating his cunning manipulation with amusing interludes before an unexpected end. Director Moore is a previous recipient from the Hong Kong English Language Drama awards for Best Director and Best Show for Doubt in 2015.Tickets start from $200 for the three remaining shows on December 2 (7.30pm) and December 3 (2.30pm and 7.30pm) from HK Ticketing,, 3128 8288.

New location for Bumps to Babes Our favourite mother and baby superstore has moved its Central store to Entertainment Building on Queen’s Road Central. The new Central location offers a bigger space stocking all your favourite maternity, new baby and children’s ranges. From baby equipment and nursery furniture to pushchairs, infant formula and clothing, Bumps to Babes stock all the

necessary supplies from top brands from around the world. The new store is open seven days a week and also offers a baby feeding and changing room. 13/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central,, 2522 7112.

Christmas markets


DEC 1 & 2

St. Stephen’s Chapel Annual Christmas Fête Pick up some excellent Christmas puddings, fudge and second-hand books at the stalls. There will also be bouncy castles and an entertainment programme packed with a coconut shy, Santa’s Grotto, Chinese Acrobats, Lion Dancers, a magic show, marching bands, Morris dancers, festive music, Scottish Highlanders and Soak the Vicar! Free admission for children, $20 for adults. 11am to 4:30pm. St Stephen’s College Sports Ground, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley. 2813 0360,

The Fringe Club This annual event is packed with local and international high-end vendors. 12-7pm, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central. Anita Chan Lai Gallery, G/F. Open to the public. Credit cards accepted. For more information, contact

DEC 2 American International School The annual Winter Fair includes international food stalls run by parents, a wide variety of game booths, student performances and a grand prize lucky draw for families of all ages. Fair tickets and raffle tickets are available at the door. 3:30pm – 8pm. 125 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, 2336 3812. ​


Quarry Bay School Run by Quarry Bay School’s parents, the Christmas Winter Fayre will include an international food stall where you’ll find delicacies from around the world. Don’t miss the lucky draw, games stalls and special performances. Tickets $10 per person. 5.308.30pm, 6 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point, 2566 4242,

by students and alumni, music, drama, dance and visual arts will be on display which is available for visitors to interact and participate in. 3-10pm. Entry $20. 20 Borrett Road, Mid-levels, 2524 7135,

DEC 3 Singapore International School Held at SIS’ primary school campus, the Christmas fair will include food and beverages, bazaar stalls, games, arts and crafts and flea market for second hand books and uniforms. 10am-4pm. 23 Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen, 2872 0266,


DEC 11

French International School The school’s Christmas fair returns with a kids’ wonderland, festive refreshments and over 35 stalls for all your Christmas shopping needs. Plus, a surprise visit from Santa. 34 Price Road, Jardine’s Lookout, 2577 6217,

Discovery Bay Christmas Market Find one-of-a-kind, locally crafted gifts for everyone on your list. Free entry, 11am-6pm, Main Plaza, Discovery Bay. Stay for dinner at one of the designated D’Deck restaurants and enjoy a free ferry ride back to Central.


DEC 24-28

Island School Celebrating its 50 year, Island School is hosting a “Island 5-0” winter arts festival. On top of international food hall, craft beer stalls, and games, there will be performances

Hong Kong Food Festival 2016 Stock up on tasty Christmas treats for the family. Tickets are $20, available at the door. Hall 3, HKEC, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai.



The PAPINEE exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries and The Mandarin Oriental

Story creatives come to Central PAPINEE, a global children’s storytelling social enterprise, is collaborating with Pearl Lam Galleries in Sheung Wan and the Mandarin Oriental to present a multi-sensory exhibition. The initiative is intended to inspire children through creativity and storytelling. “Imagination and curiosity is what empowers kids to dream about their future and soar through life with a smile,” said PAPINEE founder Dev Suj. “We wanted to bring the PAPINEE animal storytelling kits to life with a spectacular multisensory art installation that takes children on a journey across the globe.” Included in the installation are seven countries, including London, New York, Mexico, Nairobi, Brazil, Tokyo and Paris. The Mandarin Oriental will also be hosting a PAPINEE installation in the lobby as well as the largest PAPINEE sculpture ever created at 7’ tall. Cafe Causette will be converted into a PAPINEE Storytelling Cafe and a Papinee popup store will plough proceeds into Changing Young Lives Foundation. The installations run in both venues until January 6. The Pearl Lam Galleries will be welcoming underprivileged local children and schools to the exhibition every weekday between 10am and 4pm; it is open to the general public 4.30pm-7pm on weekdays and 12pm-6pm on Saturday. Pearl Lam Galleries, No 1 Soho 189, 189 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, 2857 1328. PAPINEE World at Mandarin Oriental is open until January 6, 5 Connaught Road, Central, 2522 0111,


ESF after-school Winter Camps Give your kids the runaround this Christmas with ESF’s winter sports camps and clinics. Choose from Multi Sports Camps (for ages two and above) and clinics in football, basketball, netball, gymnastics and tennis. All programmes are run by specialist coaches and focus on learning through games to make sure classes are fun as well as progressive. For something less sporty, ESF’s Kindergarten Winter Wonderland English Language Camp takes students on a journey into the world of

well-loved stories, building their understanding and enjoyment of English and developing their vocabulary and confidence in drama and roleplay. Sports camps ($1,035 - $3,300 per week) take place Monday to Friday; language camps ($2,400) from Wednesday to Saturday, between December 13 - 30 across several ESF schools. Check out the schedule and sign up at

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five minutes with

Mid-levels Norma Chu magazine


Tom Hilditch

The founder of Day Day Cook talks to Robyn Or about sharing the joy of cooking with thousands of fans.


Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel Editor Callum Wiggins Contributing Editor Annie Wong Carolynne Dear Senior Staff Writer Eric Ho


Design Manager Cindy Suen


Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Thanks to

Adele Brunner Amanda Sheppard Belinda Bamford Rebecca Simpson Robyn Or Rory Mackay Victor Chau Ellie Kehoe

Published by

Fast Media Floor LG1, 222 Queens Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong



In 2012 my husband bought me a recipe website as a birthday gift. Day Day Cook is the literal translation from the Chinese which simply means cooking everyday. Cooking was a way to calm my nerves and relax away from my high pressure corporate job in banking and investment. As a teenager growing up in Seattle, USA, the variety of restaurants was limited so we tended to cook at home. Both my mother and father loved to be in the kitchen and I think that’s what sparked my interest. Watching Martha Stewart’s lifestyle programmes were always an indulgence. The way she shared her cooking tips was a real inspiration and I thought I’d like to be like her one day. At 15 I got my first job in a restaurant. While studying for my degree at Seattle University I was working three part time jobs alongside my studies. I enjoy living a busy life.


At first I simply wanted to share chinese cooking recipes and tips on my new website. I did everything on my own from research, writing the recipes as well as photo and video shooting. When the site really started to gain popularity I realised I needed a professional team to help me keep up with demand for new recipes and content. We shoot more than 100 cooking demonstrations each month. All the recipes are carefully planned and tested by the team. There are a lot of recipe sharing platforms but I think people choose us because they see Day Day Cook as a trustworthy name. Lee Kum Kee was the first brand to approach Day Day Cook for sponsorship opportunities. Sponsored cooking demonstrations are our main source of income. I don’t think our followers are resistant to sponsored content as long as the recipes are helpful.

Waiting at the departure gate in Shanghai airport last year, a fan of Day Day Cook ran into me and told me how the recipes inspired her to make her lunch box everyday. I am glad that what I’m doing is benefiting people’s lives. The satisfaction that comes from running a cooking demonstration website compared to working in a bank is very different. I was happy when my client made money from an investment option, but the feeling was momentary. My mother is the biggest influence in my life. She taught me to be independent and tough since I was a young child. Without her I don’t think I would have got this far today. Day Day Cook Studio opened on Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan last year. It is the place where we connect with fans and cooking lovers through organising workshops and events. I love the atmosphere in Tai Ping Shan Street as we are surrounded by a myriad of creative shops and cafes. M








Mid-levels magazine


Digital Marketing Manager Charmaine Mirandilla

Sales & Marketing Sales Director Oliver Simons

Sales & Marketing Executive Egbert Cheung Maria Jones Bonnie Li


PA to the Publisher Amanda Chia Accounting Executive Jason To Office Security Cat the dog


Apex Print Limited 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong


GIVE US A CALL! Admin: 3568 3722 Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772, 3563 9755 Mid-levels Magazine is published by Fast Media Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Southside Magazine cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or pubishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.


Park it, pay it.

Car parking spaces sell for record prices in Mid-levels, writes Callum Wiggins.


ecent record sales for luxury homes and car parking spaces in Midlevels have bolstered the area’s reputation for being among the most expensive places to live in Hong Kong. The 135-square feet parking space at 55 Conduit Road sold for $4.8 million to another resident, becoming the most expensive parking space in the city. With only 38 parking spaces in the 35-unit development, the demand from residents owning more than one car has driven parking space prices sky high. “The issue here is of demand versus supply”, explains Belinda Woo, Director of Residential Division at “As the purchaser was an end user, it is likely that a car parking space was a necessity that they were willing to pay for. Wealthy individuals often have more than one car, and with few apartments including more than one car park in their initial sale, they are forced to look to the secondary market”. Last month, adjoining flats

on The Peak sold for $104,803 per square foot which broke the previous record of $103,762 set by a property at 39 Conduit Road in Mid-levels in 2015. The government has recently raised residential stamp duty to 15 per

The 135-square feet parking space at 55 Conduit Road sold for $4.8 million

cent in an effort to curb rocketing house prices as well as existing surcharges for non-permanent residents and non-first-time buyers. “The updated stamp duty measures mean that investors will be looking towards other asset classes instead of residential properties”, says Woo. “Demand

for car parks, commercial and retail properties are likely to see some upward movement as a result unless additional government measures are implemented”. Mid-levels residents who are looking to acquire additional car parking spaces are advised to shop around, according to Woo. “There is a big difference in prices depending on the development, even for buildings with similar locations. Clients are advised to look beyond their development but note that some buildings restrict ownership to those owning properties within the development itself. Renting car parking spaces from other owners is also an option”. With the estimated market value of a car parking space starting from $1.2 million, Midlevels residents face a steep price for the luxury of an extra car. M Do you have a local issue you would like to see covered? Email the editor at



Lion Rock spirit

Mid-levels resident Claire Yates of The Lion Rock Press reveals how the family business began and what’s in store for Christmas. How did The Lion Rock Press business start? My Chinese great-grandfather started our paper business more than 100 years ago. He began by printing import/export documents for shipping merchants from his Pottinger Street shop, which was, of course, the waterfront in those days! His sons, my 88 year old grandfather and his brothers, still work every day in the office. We are all inspired by the lessons they teach us about hard work and commitment. I wanted to continue our proud legacy of quality, responsibly-sourced paper but make it more creative, modern and fun. Back in 2013 we started with four charity Christmas cards, gift wrap and tags plus three notecard designs. Since then, we have grown rapidly and now have over 70 designs of greeting cards, over 20 designs of gift wrap and tags, boxed notecards, puzzles and our famous Hong Kong-themed Christmas decorations. Do you design the cards yourselves and where do you get your inspiration from? We design, produce and fold all the cards ourselves and we are influenced by the everyday charm of Hong Kong. Whether it be milk tea and pineapple buns, the Star Ferries or the humble taxis, we love everything about this crazy city. My 88 year old grandmother folds and packs every one of our cards and tags despite having rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. She’s absolutely remarkable. It has been great fun to extend our offering beyond stationery to gifts. Expats, in particular, love to send our products all over the world, and it makes us so happy to know that people are getting a little piece of the 852 through their Lion Rock goodies. Have you always lived in Hong Kong? I’ve been in and out of Hong Kong since I was born. My mother is British-educated Hong Kong Chinese while my English father is from Birmingham. We lived here for many years

when I was growing up and I attended Bradbury and South Island School before being sent to English boarding school at 12 years old. My parents left Hong Kong just before the handover and settled in Oxfordshire. My maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all live in Hong Kong, which is a great blessing for me. My husband and I and our two children live

My 88-year old Grandmother folds and packs every one of our cards

on Lyttelton Road. The area around Sai Ying Pun has undergone a revolution in the past two years, and we are loving it. All our friends who used to say “where do you live again?” are now raving about the bar and restaurant scene here. We are enjoying watching them all eat humble pie! What products do you have for Christmas this year? We are so excited to be presenting two new series of Christmas decorations this year, Culture & Heritage, as well as last year’s series of Hong Kong Transport. For the fourth


year running we are proudly supporting the amazing charity Mother’s Choice through the sales of our Christmas cards, Christmas gift wrap and tags. 100% of the profits from the sales of these items go directly to benefitting this extremely worthwhile cause. Why is Mother’s Choice such an important charity for you to support? I identify with the charity for many reasons, not least because, as a new mother, you suddenly feel the pain of children without families and pregnant women without support so acutely. It makes you realise how fortunate you are. One of its founding principles is a belief that not only does every child deserves a loving family, but that every family is unique. Families are built on love and commitment, and not just by blood. I’m proud to be doing my small part in ensuring that as many vulnerable babies and children in Hong Kong find caring, permanent homes. Do you have a favourite area of Hong Kong? I adore Sheung Wan where my office is. Before I started working there, I’d never set foot in the area despite being familiar with Hong Kong my entire life! It has retained so much of old Hong Kong, whilst adapting to the influx of offices and young people by opening fantastic restaurants and bars. It is great fun exploring and finding that you can have a new Pizza

send it with love back after lunch and play rounds and rounds of mahjong in between opening presents, and eating more food! Last year I was still delivering Christmas decorations on Christmas day, but this year I’m hoping to be able to relax and enjoy the rare opportunity of having all my extended family together. A family trip to Vietnam on Boxing day is also much looked forward to. To find out more about the products from The Lion Rock Press, visit thelionrockpress. com and purchase items online. M Express next to a family congee restaurant that’s been there for generations. I walk to work every day down Ladder Street and I marvel at the hustle and bustle, the hawkers, the smell of incense from the temples, and the mix of the old and the new - it’s totally invigorating. Any favourite places you enjoy as a family? We’ve recently bought a car for the first time in Hong Kong. It has allowed us to explore all kinds of places that we hadn’t been before. We’ve discovered that we love to road trip! Just recently we went to the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and enjoyed the stunning rooftop garden. The kids adored the fountains and were running riot in just their pants. We had dim sum in the crazy

banquet hall and then scooted along the Kwun Tong promenade to have ice-cream sundaes at the end as our reward before driving home. It was the perfect day. And finally, how will you be spending Christmas this year? I’m overjoyed that my parents, my brothers and their families will be joining our Hong Kong family this year for Christmas. There will be 25 people all together, and we have decided to take a private room at HKFC for Christmas lunch. I usually cook for at least 18 at my grandmother’s flat on Macdonnell Road, but with more kids this year, I’ve reluctantly had to concede defeat on that front. We will still go


cover story is for Cookies




is for AIA Carnival


The whole family can make their own cookies complete with exquisite decorations at Popsy Modern Kitchen. Every weekend, budding artists and chefs can try their hand at piping icing onto holly-shaped homemade sugar cookies. Good to eat as well as fit for hanging on the tree, the cookies are fit for Santa himself. Cookie decorators can also sip on hot chocolate during the class and take their cookies home in a merry gift box. Classes run until December 31 held from 3pm-5pm. $168 per person. Visit for more details or call 2907 8188.

Roll up, roll up! The AIA Great European Carnival returns to Central Harbourfront from December 16 until February 12. Attracting more than one million visitors last year, the carnival will once again play host to fairground rides, games, dance shows, pantomimes and magicians. Tickets start at $90 for children and $125 for adults. More information at

is for Disneyland

D is for Baubles


These are some of our favourites from the Indigo Living Christmas collection. Prices start from $79 per bauble.


Goofy is bringing Christmas cheer to Hong Kong this year as he dons his Santa costume and greets guests at The Christmas Post Office. Tell Santa Goofy what you’re wishing for or send a limited edition Christmas postcard through the Santa Goofy mailbox. An 18-metre LED-wrapped Christmas tree is not to be missed while the night parade is a visual feast of seasonal decorations with Christmas carollers singing all your favourite tunes. Hong Kong Disneyland’s “A Sparkling Christmas” runs until January 2. Visit for more details.

christmas A-Z is for Eggnog


Nothing tastes more like Christmas than eggnog. Here’s our trusted recipe: • Combine four cups of milk, cloves, half a teaspoon of vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan. Heat over lowest setting for five minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil. • In a large bowl, combine 10 egg yolks and one cup of sugar. Whisk together until fluffy and then whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. In a saucepan cook the mixture over a medium heat, stirring until thick but do not allow to boil. Strain and cool. • Stir in a few cups of rum, light cream and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. We like a dash of ground nutmeg too. Cool before serving.

is for Happy New Year


Thinking of the New Year already? Celebrate the start of 2017 with the masses by grabbing a prime spot along the harbourfront for the midnight firework display. Those seeking a quieter start to the year should head to Bowen Road for all the spectacular views but without the throng of people.

is for Food hampers


Christmas gifts don’t come much more thoughtful than a Christmas food hamper. Give yourself one less task to do in the run up to the big day by buying pre-prepared hampers from Gift Hampers Hong Kong. Hampers come crammed full of goodies including Christmas pudding, chocolates, crackers, foie gras and wine. Complete the hamper with a personalised message card. Visit to see the full range of festive hampers.

is for Ice skating



Hong Kong is blessed with a number of ice skating rinks and most are located in shopping malls across the city. The only ice skating rink on Hong Kong Island is located in Cityplaza, Taikoo Shing. One of the longest running skating rinks around, the rink is open to leisure skaters in addition to hosting ice skating classes. Weekday skating sessions start from $60 including skate hire and locker rental. Prices do rise during the weekends.

is for Gift wrapping Check out kikki.K in Prince’s Building for all your gift wrapping needs. From wrapping paper and gift tags to glitter sticky tape and rainbow gel pens, kikki.K has you covered with its effortless Swedish-inspired designs. Order online too at


cover feature story is for Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe

is for Jesus


There wouldn’t be Christmas without him. St. John’s Cathedral holds its Midnight Mass from 11pm on December 24. A seat in the cathedral is by ticket only and can be purchased from


Our favourite Christmas treats from our favourite sweet shop. Choose from a range of festive chocolatefilled advent calendars and other sweet goodies from this traditional British confectioner. Two locations in Central and Wan Chai,

is for Nutcracker


Performed every year by the Hong Kong Ballet, it wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and the Mouse King. Held this year on various dates between December 16-25. Find out more about what’s in store this year in our interview with the choreographer on page 38.

is for Knitwear


Christmas jumpers are a festive tradition. Keep it stylish with a jumper from homegrown online fashion store Zalora.

Gingerbread Man Crew Neck Christmas Jumper by TOPMAN from Zalora, $549.

is for Operation Santa Claus

is for Light show


The 3D Light Show displays Victoria Harbour in all its glory during its nightly Christmas-themed spectacular with audiovisual effects at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Clock Tower in Tsim Sha Tsui. Four shows each night (8.20pm, 8.45pm, 9.15pm, 9.45pm) until December 28.



Since 1988 Operation Santa Claus (OSC) has been spreading Christmas cheer amongst local charities through this annual fundraiser. Schools, organisations and individuals across the city hold all sorts of events from quizzes to cookie sales. Last year saw a record breaking $21.3 million raised for deserving causes. For more details and to make a donation, visit


cover story is for Pantomime


Hong Kong Players have been staging Christmas pantos in Hong Kong for the past 54 years. The group’s 55th panto - The Snow Queen - is an icy take on love and hate, good and evil, courage and cowardice, and trolls! Performances on December 11 and 14-18 at Kellett School Theatre, Kowloon Bay. Concession tickets from $250 and adults tickets from $270 at More details at

is for Quality Street


Everyone has a favourite - the milk chocolate purple one being ours and a 780g tin can be yours thanks to Marketplace by Jasons ($145). The iconic Christmas choccies are best left on the living room table for post-Christmas dinner grazing.

is for Requests to Santa

R This year’s Christmas panto, The Snow Queen, is sure to give audiences the chills.

is for Santa Claus


We managed to spare a few minutes from Santa’s busy schedule to ask him a few important questions.

What snacks should we leave for you and your reindeers on your stop in Hong Kong? I always look forward to an egg tart or a mince pie of course, washed down with a cup of milk tea. Don’t forget a spare carrot or two for Rudolph and his pals. Not many homes in Hong Kong have chimneys, will you be able to put presents under our trees? My magic key gets me into any home, it’s much easier than squeezing down a chimney! The concierge staff are usually very helpful too. Track Santa on his sleigh live on Christmas Eve at - with hourly texts on his progress beginning on Christmas Eve morning (southern hemisphere-time).


Hongkong Post assures us that letters addressed to ‘Hong Kong Post Santa Claus’ and fixed with a local stamp and return address are guaranteed to reach Santa before he packs the last of his presents into the sleigh. Letters posted before December 14 will even receive a reply before the big day.

christmas A-Z is for Tipples


Whether you want to stock up on your favourite bottle of red or white, or you’re looking for something a little more festive, the range of wines on offer at Winerack (25A High Street, Sai Ying Pun, is hard to beat.

is for Xmas trees


Anglo Chinese Florist This year is the florist’s 70th anniversary. Choose between Noble fir, starting from $936, and Douglas fir, starting from $990. All trees are sourced directly from the Oregon Tree Farm.

is for Unexpected guests


Suddenly expecting a few more bodies around the dinner table this Christmas? Give them (and yourself) a nice break and suggest a stay at hip hotel Ovolo Southside - just a short taxi ride away from Mid-levels in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Wong Chuk Hang. Take all the stress out of Christmas Day and join them at Ovolo Southside for Christmas lunch (12pm-3pm) or make the most of Southside’s stunning views and join for the Christmas eve barbeque dinner (6pm-11pm). Visit for more details.

G/F & Basement, No. 9 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 8am-8pm, 2921 2986,

is for YEECHOO

is for Venture photography



In need of a nice family portrait to send to friends and family that you can’t be with this year? Venture Studios has been capturing precious family memories in Hong Kong since 2006. Expert photographers will help you to create the kind of photo shoot you are looking for, whether that’s choosing a particular background or even just distracting the kids and making them smile. For more details on photo packages, visit

Dress to impress this holiday season thanks to Yeechoo. The online designer dress and accessory rental destination lets you choose from a selection of gorgeous outfits without having to spend thousands at the store. Simply select your dress and rental period and a courier will deliver and pick up your outfit. The Yeechoo ‘Infinity’ package allows you to rent as many outfits as you wish starting from just $680 a month. Happy shopping! Visit for more details.

is for Zzzzzz... is for Winterfest


Don’t miss the classic Statue Square Christmas tree in Central for the biggest tree in town. Look out for special appearances by Santa Claus and friends while a Christmas choir will serenade the crowds with festive carols between December 19-24. This year lovebirds can buy a lock for charity and hang it to the railings for posterity too (or at least until the end of 2016). For more details, visit


Put your feet up and enjoy a post-Christmas slumber. You deserve it. M


above HK

Above Hong Kong Island All our favourite pictures of your favourite places, all in one book. 26 | WWW.MID-LEVELS.CO

bird’s-eye view


above HK


ver wondered what it would be like to be one of Hong Kong’s black kites? Look no further. Five years after publishing the sellout book of aerial photography Above Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay, award-winning photographer Graham Uden and the team at Fast Media have again joined forces to produce a second book, Above Hong Kong Island. Shot on several helicopter flights, the photos capture the wonders of Hong Kong Island, from Victoria Harbour up to Mid-levels and The Peak and around the Southside: mountains, beaches, country parks, reservoirs, fishing ports, theme parks, container ships, floating restaurants, skyscrapers, luxury condos and winding roads.

Behind the scenes On a particularly chilly morning - after weeks of waiting for the right conditions - members of the Above Hong Kong Island photography team received the call to wrap up warm and make our way to the The China Clipper, an exclusive lounge located on the 30th floor of The Peninsula Hotel, just below its famous rooftop helipad. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was shining - a better day for aerial photography might not come again for weeks. In the lounge, Heliservices (provider of helicopter sightseeing tours and VIP charter services) briefed the team - Graham Uden, his


assistant August Liu and Fast Media editors Callum Wiggins and Shreena Patel - on the planned flight route. Our eight cameras - over $500,000 worth of equipment - were prepped and readied, with Graham and August juggling at least three each. Meanwhile, the doors of the helicopter were removed to provide unobstructed views. Finally, with the team safely strapped in on either side of the helicopter (but with enough room to lean out should the photo opportunity require it), pilot Richard Boswell gently took off and the helicopter made its way over Victoria Harbour. Our mission was simple take shots of all the best views and look out for any unexpected surprises. Swooping over the skyscrapers of the Central Business District and above the luxury homes etched into the hillside of The Peak, we saw clearly Hong Kong Island’s wealth of different landscapes. The route then took us around Mount Davis and towards the Southside, where high density living makes way for beautiful vistas of the South China Sea, bays, beaches and rocky peninsulas. From a boat drifting in Aberdeen Harbour to a bus winding along Tai Tam Road, capturing the minutiae of life on Hong Kong Island was just as important as the sweeping panoramas. Over the industrial areas of Chai Wan and the Eastern District, the flight route hugged the harbourfront as we approached Central for a last

barrage of photos. Bodies shivering and eyes streaming with tears from the ice-cold winds blowing through the helicopter, our nearly numb fingers clicked the shutter on the last of the 5,000 images taken during the flight. As we sifted through the thousands of images, we placed our favourites on the pages and the book began to take shape. Hong Kong is a place where looking up offers a surprise every now and again. But sometimes it’s better to look from above. M

Order your copy now




Chirstmas feasts

Where to dine out on Christmas day. Plus where to buy your turkey. By Annie Wong. Grand Hyatt Fill your boots at Grand Hyatt’s buffet restaurant, Tiffin. The buffet offers a delicious spread of Western and European delicacies, freshly prepared waffles and an ice cream station. Carols will be performed during Christmas eve dinner and Christmas day, along with a visit from Santa. $1,280 per adult, $640 per child for lunch and dinner.

s The hotel

Mezzanine floor, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2584 7722,

The Peninsula Hong Kong Available from Dec 22-26, the much-loved Lobby at The Peninsula is offering a delectable Christmas afternoon tea ($458 per person) and four course set dinner ($1,488). Meanwhile, the hotel’s European avant-

Hyatt Regency Sha Tin Hong Kong The Sha Tin-based hotel is offering a Christmas lunch ($558 for adult, $279 for children) and dinner ($688 for adult, $344 for children). Feast on pan-fried foie gras, turkey with traditional stuffing, lobster and more at Hyatt Regency’s

garde restaurant, Felix, is serving up a threecourse ($1,388 from 6-8pm) or a five-course dinner from 8pm onwards ($1,888). Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon,

Cafe. Each sitting includes a glass of wine, beer or soft drink. 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin, 3723 1234,

InterContinental Hong Kong The Steak House Winebar and Grill is offering surf-and-turf Christmas lunch and dinner set menus. Both menus start with a trip to the salad bar, followed by a choice of main, dessert buffet and coffee or tea. Choices for mains include U.S rib eye steak (8oz for lunch; 14oz for dinner), filet mignon and sirloin steak (8oz for lunch). Lunch is $1,138 per person; $838 per child. Dinner is $1,688; $1,388 per child. Inspired by Christmas classic “The Nutcracker”, Executive Pastry Chef Cyril Dupuis’ has put together a Festive Nutcracker Afternoon tea. Available throughout December, starts at $608 for two (prices vary depending on dates). Lower level, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2313 2323,


Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Kowloon East Situated on the first floor, Chef’s Table is serving traditional Christmas dishes like turkey and ham, as well as seafood favourites including oysters, blue mussels, lobster and clams. Special items such as scallop carpaccio and pan fried goose liver are available at dinner. ($358 per adult, $268 per child for the lunch buffet; $638 per adult and $518 per child for dinner). In addition, a festive tea set is available at Cielo on the 47th floor, complete with savoury items like turkey burrito and mini lobster burgers. Desserts include English scones and Christmas log cake. $328 for two, available from Dec 20 to Jan 1. 3 Tong Tak Street, Tseung Kwan O,


Casa Lisboa For cosy Portuguese fare, Casa Lisboa’s Christmas buffet is filled with new dishes. Sample from the cold buffet, hot food, bacalhau and dessert station. Homemade Portuguese bread, soup and sharing plates are available. ($480 per adult; $250 per child aged 4-11). Free-flow options start at $90 per person.

eat, drink and be merry 208 Duecento Otto Italian restaurant, 208 Duecento Otto has prepared a selection of Christmas dishes with an Italian twist. On the menu are venison carpaccio, porcini and wild mushroom risotto, Christmas trifle and more. Guests also receive a complimentary panettone. Available December 21-27. Head to 208 Duecento Otto on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for the restaurant’s signature brunch: an unlimited spread of salads and antipasti for $508 per person. Mains and desserts available at extra cost, additional $180 for free-flow Veuve Clicquot.

208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2549 0208,

Jamie’s Italian Sharing is caring at Jamie’s Italian. The eatery has two specific menus this Christmas - Festive Lunch Set and the WOW menu. The lunch set has an option for two ($168) or three ($198) courses which comes with starters, mains and dessert. For groups of 10 or more, the WOW menu ($468 per person) includes three courses of two starters, two mains, two side dishes and a dessert. Available throughout December.

8/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2905 1168,

The Optimist Feliz Navidad! The Optimist brings Spanish fever to its five-course Christmas menu. The menu includes the restaurant’s signature dishes like grilled Galician octopus, wild monkfish and Spanish fillet Chateaubriand. It finishes with Turrón de Navidad, a traditional dessert of sweet nougat, honey and roasted almonds. Available on December 24 and 25. $688 per person, with free flow packages starting at an additional $240 for bottomless wine, beer, prosecco, champagne and house spirits. The Optimist is also offering a semi-buffet style brunch. Expect roast turkey, with various small dishes, mains and desserts. $348 per person, additional $180 per person for free flow prosecco, sangria, wine and beer.

Pirata Celebrate the Italian way with Pirata’s festive lunch and dinner menu. Marvel at the giant carved out parmesan wheel full of boletus mushroom risotto during brunch ($298 per person; free-flow for an extra $180). The five-course dinner menu ($648 per person) tantalises taste buds with wild boar ragout, Tuscan sea bass and butchers’ cut steak, followed by popular Italian desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta.

G/F-2/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2433 3324,

29-30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2887 0270,

2/F, Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 3958 2222,

Catalunya Along with specially created dishes like homemade terrine foie gras and and the seafood platter for two (available December 24, 25 and 31), a Spanish brunch awaits diners at Catalunya. The Christmas day brunch starts from $780 ($208 for children aged 3-9) and includes free-flow French oysters, plus a seafood station and signature dishes like charcuterie, pinchos, salads and desserts. Free flow starts at an additional $230. G/F, Guardian House, Morrison Hill, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, 2866 7900,


eating Popsy Modern Kitchen Art inspired restaurant Popsy Modern Kitchen has been transformed into a winter garden with shades of gold and black and silk flowers. The restaurant has prepared a special eightcourse Enchanted Christmas menu with dishes including seared scallops, pan seared duck foie gras and poached turbot. Following the tradition of roasting game, roasted duck is served and finished with a ‘Christmas Wreath’ dessert. $988 per person. 5/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan, 2907 8188, Zuma Go fancy with Zuma’s Baikingu Christmas brunch. Acclaimed for its Japanese cuisine, Zuma has ensured that this year’s festive menu features its signature dishes as well as seasonal delicacies, like iberico pork ribs with Japanese BBQ sauce and spicy cashew nuts, Teriyaki turkey and roasted blue lobster. For an added festive twist, guests will enjoy white truffle shaved table side by the chef. Zuma is also serving its own homemade mulled wine. $590 per person; $650 for the Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne package. Available on Dec 24 and 25.

A Festive Season Tasting Menu with White Truffle is also available from 5 December 2016. Finally, if you still haven’t made plans for New Year’s Eve, ZUMA is bringing the glitz and glamour of 1920s America with Japan in the form of Gatsby Shogatsu. Enjoy a special tasting menu with white truffle accompanied by live performances, or head upstairs to the lounge for DJs, performances and a set menu and wine pairing menu offering. Landmark Level 5 & 6, 15 Queen’s Road Central, 3657 6388,

With a view

Wooloomooloo Prime With glittering views of Hong Kong, Wooloomooloo Prime has crafted a Christmas set dinner menu ($988 per person, available December 24 and 25) which starts with a smoked salmon and crab parcel, smoked duck breast and foie gras, soup and a main choice option of traditional Christmas turkey, pan-seared halibut or the signature Wooloomooloo grilled Australian beef tenderloin. The evening finishes with a dessert, coffee, tea and petit four. Level 27 & 28, Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 2771 3600,

aqua Located on the top level of One Peking, aqua has panoramic views of Hong Kong Island. aqua is celebrating the festive season with a Yuletide five course feast ($1,498 per person; extra $398 per person with wine pairing). The restaurant utilises both Japanese and Italian flavours and conjures up grilled umami Hokkaido scallop, roasted turkey breast and grilled Japanese sea bass. 29-30/F, One Peking, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3427 2288,


Morton’s The Steakhouse With harbour views available from every table, guests are spoilt for choice at Morton’s The Steakhouse this Christmas. The dinner set menu ($1,088 per person) begins with a starter, followed by a choice of appetizers, mains, sides and desserts. Mains include 16oz rib eye and 8oz filet mignon as well as salmon and chicken dishes. Served with coffee and tea. 4/F, The Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2732 2343,


eating Classified Classified is serving up a storm with all your favourite Christmas dishes including honey roast ham, rolled Norfolk turkey and Christmas pudding. There will be roasted potatoes, honeyed carrots and brussel sprouts to share. $480 per person. Available from December 1, minimum of six guests needed per booking.

l Traditiona

Outlets across Hong Kong including 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2525 3454

Feast (Food by EAST) Feast is starting the festive season with a semi-buffet brunch, which comes with half Boston lobster, antipasti and a range of seafood selections. There is an option of hand carved turkey breast, organic baby rack of lamb and rib of beef for mains. The brunch is topped with festive desserts like cinnamon creme brulee,

lemon ginger polenta cake, mince pies and more. Look out for a visit from Santa and the Snowman. $558 per person. EAST, 29 Taikoo Shing, Taikoo Shing Road, 3968 3777,

FRITES Tuck into a three-course Christmas menu at Belgian beer house FRITES. The menu starts with a pot of Guezue mussels, followed by turkey ballotine served with sausage and chestnut stuffing or black angus roast beef as mains and finishes with a Christmas brioche pudding. $495 per person. Additional $250 per person for two hours of free flow prosecco, beers, wine, spirits, juices and soft drinks. The dishes in the express lunch menu will change weekly during the three weeks leading up to Christmas.

Aberdeen Street Social Located in PMQ, Executive Chef Chris Whitmore has crafted a British fare for diners this Christmas. The menu starts with soup, appetizer with various traditional dishes as mains including turkey, venison wellington, roasted south coast bass, dessert and mince pies. The restaurant will be serving complimentary mulled wine during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. $750 per person. Available Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Branches available across Hong Kong including 1/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, 2217 6671,

PMQ, JPC G/F, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2866 0300,

Christmas hampers InterContinental Hong Kong There are four hampers to choose from; The Festive Foodie Basket ($2,998), The Epicurean ($3,998), The Gourmet ($6,998) and the New Life Organic Holiday Hamper ($1,998). Each hamper is topped with various festive items like panettone, Christmas pudding and mince pies. Hampers come in a specially designed carry case. Order from 2313 2323, Available until December 30. Classified Choose from a variety of hampers from Classified that are filled with all your favourite Christmas goodies including gingerbread, mince pies and mulled wine mix. Hamper sets include The All I want for Christmas Hamper ($2,600), Winter Wonderland Hamper ($1,190) and Little


Drummer Boy Hamper ($900). Delivery fee varies depending on location. Orders must be placed before December 26, by emailing The South African Shop A Christmas hamper including a range of South African treats including biltong, sweets, teas, pastes, crisps and more. Invisible Kitchen Hong Kong’s gourmet little helpers have put together a classic Christmas home hamper. The hamper serves eight-12 people and includes a traditional roast turkey, pork and cranberry stuffing, roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts and more. $2,400 per hamper. Call 2711 5788, or visit

Berry Bros. & Rudd Make the festive season more merry with Berry Bros. & Rudd’s King’s Ginger Gift Set ($499). Along with a bottle of The King’s Ginger Liqueur, the set comes with a leather hip flask and a brace of two extendable cups. The liqueur will come in handy for making the perfect Christmas mulled wine. Order from Marks and Spencer There is a wide range of hampers available from Marks and Spencer including the Christmas Spectacular ($3,699), the Christmas Joy ($299) and Kids’ Delights ($125.5). Glutenfree hampers are also available. Order to be placed before Dec 16 to receive free delivery, call 3656 2223,



go Turkeys to

Oliver’s The Delicatessen Oliver’s offers two choices of turkeys this festive season. The Ali Oli Christmas turkey dinner set ($4,388) comes with a full spread of antipasti, roasted turkey with apple and walnut stuffing, honey-glazed ham, salmon, sides, desserts and mulled wine. Orders must be placed by December 19 (at least four days in advance for delivery). Alternatively, there’s an oven-ready 13lbs US roast turkey without stuffing ($680 each, needs to be picked up). To order, email or for more information, call 2810 7710,

GREAT Food Hall Choose from different sized turkeys at the GREAT Food Hall. Imported from France and the US, frozen, chilled and organic turkeys available and range from 3kg to 9.5kg. Prices vary depending on type of turkey. Festive sides like roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, truffle potato gratin and turkey gravy can also be ordered separately at an extra cost. Cooked dinner sets are also available and start from $1,299. Orders at least four days in advance, by December 19 at the latest. Order online, call 2918 0091 or in store. Basement, Two Pacific Place, Queensway, Admiralty.


Blue Raised on the banks of Hunter Valley in Australia, Blue’s whole ($1,880) and half ($980) semi-deboned Hunter Valley free-range turkeys are available to tuck into at home. The turkey comes with mashed potatoes, homemade pork stuffing, chorizo brussel sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce. All orders include sweet potato pie and cinnamon whipped cream. All turkeys must be ordered 48 hours in advance. 108 Hollywood Road, Central, 2613 9286,

Morty’s Delicatessen Feast in the comfort of your own home with Morty’s Delicatessen’s Family Feast@HOME package ($2,788). Available throughout the month of December, the package can feed 10-14 people, with a whole roasted American turkey, apple smoked bacon stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato mash and more. Dessert dishes

include Martha’s apple pie and homemade blueberry cheesecake. Extras like honey glazed ham (8kg), salads, desserts and other treats can be ordered separately. Orders need to be placed at least three days in advance. Order at, or call 3665 0900. M


arts & culture

A real Christmas cracker

Amanda Sheppard speaks to choreographer Terence Kohler about the Hong Kong Ballet’s production of the timeless Christmas classic, The Nutcracker.


form, performing with the Australian Ballet in Kenneth Macmillan’s Manon. But it was when I saw a performance of Jiri Kylian’s One of a Kind by the Netherlands Dance Theatre that I knew I wanted to be a choreographer.

Which piece of choreography made you realise this was the career for you? Two ballets are important for me. When I was a child I fell completely in love with the art

How have you made The Nutcracker your own? Like any choreographer, I’m influenced by my own fantasy, and when you start creating in the studio together with the dancers, it’s their individual qualities and impulses that help to shape the work further. Hong Kong is lucky to have such wonderful and unique dancers. I like to believe that the ballet as it exists now is not only my Nutcracker, but our Nutcracker. I can only give them the choreographic score; they

hen the season starts to turn, the cooler air leaves a spring in the step of most city-dwellers in Hong Kong. This tends to mean just one thing: Christmas is around the corner. There is perhaps no better way to get yourself into the festive spirit than an evening with the quintessential Christmas feat: The Nutcracker. The production made its debut in 1892 in St Petersburg, Russia, and has been delighting ballet enthusiasts from around the world for more than a century since.


bring it to life each show. Would you say you are imprinting your trademarks onto the production? A common misconception about The Nutcracker is that a definitive version of the ballet exists worldwide. Over the years, each ballet company has formed their own tradition, and very little of the original choreography is performed nowadays. When we researched how the Christmas tradition was adopted in Hong Kong, we discovered that many families come together to eat a special meal with each other. This became the basis of our party scene in Act One. When considering my own trademarks; I guess one can never really escape themselves when creating new work.

Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet The festive Christmas classic returns to the stage

Does Tchaikovsky’s score still inspire you in new ways? I have been listening to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score ever since I first discovered my parent’s record collection as a child. Even now though, listening to the music still manages to excite and awaken a similar sense of magic and awe inspiring wonder that I had all those years ago. Every time I start listening to the music again, I find new impulses and inspirations that translate into new solutions to improve upon the last year. My favourite moment is when we have our first orchestral dress rehearsal just before opening night because the dancers are so inspired by the score it manages to push them to dance even better than the year before! Could you talk us through your opening night routine? Opening night is a ‘blink and you miss it’ kind of moment. We have normally been working so incredibly hard to get the production ready that there is only enough time to grab something to eat, put on a suit and suddenly there we are. I normally go backstage to greet the dancers, wishing them the energy and strength to do their very best. Then I wait for the ballet staff on the side of the stage and we accompany each other out into the auditorium. It doesn’t matter how many years we have been doing the ballet, as we sit there together eagerly anticipating the dimming of the lights and the first notes of Tchaikovsky’s famous overture, we all have butterflies in our stomach. M


arts & culture


Photos by Marcel Heijnen, ‘Hong Kong Shop Cats’ Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery, Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s shop cats are starring in their own book. Amanda Sheppard finds out more.

Hong Kong’s shop owners share space with their feline friends

In a tale as old as time, a game of cat and mouse ensues in Hong Kong’s western district – a place where time seems to have stood still – despite an encroaching urbanisation of nearby streets. Dutch Photographer Marcel Heijnen has sought to encapsulate just this in his new book, Hong Kong Shop Cats, featuring a series of stills, stories, and poems. Shot over a period of nine months, Heijnen, who was previously based in Singapore, has recently relocated back to Hong Kong, a place he called home some 18 years ago. It was here, he tells us, “I found myself living without cats for the first time in about 40 years”. Near his home in the Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun area, Heijnen struck inspirational gold, and began taking pictures of these proud animals in their adopted homes. “I just hang around until something interesting happens. Often, there’s


a very loving relationship between the shop owners and the cats”, he says. The photographs in Heijnen’s book are intercut with featured poems, prose and calligraphy by contributing writers, including pieces by poet and friend Ian Row. “Ian often features haikus written from the point of view of his wonderful cat, Charlie”, says Heijnen. “The results are highly creative, observational, and most of all: humorous. They provide a deeper meaning to the photos, and make this more than just a book with cool photos in it”. The book includes a foreword by Heijnen himself, and an essay which gives insight into the Hong Kong shopcat phenomenon by Catharine Nicol. These images evoke a sense of timelessness, explains Heijnen. “Hardly anything in these photos tells the viewer that they were taken in 2016. The shops are void of retail designs

and branding. I was surprised to find out that this particular story has yet to be told by any photographer, as far as I am aware”. “It’s mainly just goods, people, and cats”, Heijnen says of his compositions. However, a quick glance reveals much, much more than first meets the eye. Ironic, audacious, and everendearing, the subjects of these photographs are confident and curious, and we can testify that the true kings of the castles have indeed claimed their thrones. The Hong Kong Shop Cats book launches at a pop up at the ZZHK art space in Sheung Wan from December 9-11. Books and prints will then be displayed at the Blue Lotus Gallery in Chai Wan. For more information, visit M


home & living Nutcracker Ballerina tree decoration $199 from Indigo Living

Style it right Our pick of festive decorations for your home.

Shishi Angel Heart Ornament $60 from Lane Crawford

Pinecone Wreath Candle Holder $495 from TREE Pinecone Gift Box Set $125 from TREE Elements Optimal Sheep Chair $2,900 from Lane Crawford

Red & Gold Tree Top Star $299 from Indigo Living


things we’d buy Nutcracker soldier tree decoration $199 from Indigo Living

Nutcracker tree decoration $199 from Indigo Living

Red Berry Candle Ring $199 from Indigo Living

Canvas table top snowman $145 from TREE

Canvas Christmas stocking ornament $65 from TREE

Mini Christmas tree $145 from TREE

Canvas table top santa From $65 from TREE


home & living

Deck your halls

There’s no right or wrong way to do Christmas - but there’s always room for improvement, says Adele Brunner.


veryone has their own traditions at Christmas, and whether you’re a stalwart of the pile-em-high brigade, or prefer something more minimal, it’s up to you how you deck your halls. But then again, who hasn’t felt a twinge of tree envy when faced with a friend’s stunningly decorated fir or wanted more of a creative Christmas table? The key is planning says Jude Bailey, cofounder of party planning company Events For Life. “Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time both to assemble your ideas and to actually decorate,” she says. If you want a stylish living area, she


advises, it helps to have a stylish room to begin with. With space so tight in Hong Kong homes, too much furniture and clutter can stop a room from looking its best. Bailey suggests moving furniture around and decluttering shelves and other areas to create empty space for Christmas decorations. “Decide which areas of the room you want to accent and create one or two focal points (such as a Christmas tree in one corner or a festive display on a sideboard) which will draw the eye towards them,” says Bailey. “Don’t go overboard or it will look messy. It’s also best to have a plain backdrop so the decorations really stand out.”

She also advises sticking to one or two neutral base colours such as white, silver or gold, and adding pops of colour to these. This even extends to the colour of your wrapping paper, which should be bought to complement your decorations and complete the overall look. “It’s worth investing in some good quality baubles in your base colour because they will be used every year,” she says. “If you like a bit of colour at Christmas, buy cheaper decorations in that shade. That way, you can change it from one year to the next without breaking the bank. Purple, green and red are the obvious Christmassy colours but if you want something more contemporary, try hot

festive touches pink, lime green and orange.” If you’re not particularly creative, have no fear. Decorating inspiration abounds online. You only have to go to Pinterest for thousands of amazingly simple ideas, such as Mason jars filled with pine cones, a line of different sized wreaths on a coat rail and mini trees made out of twigs. Bailey suggests playing with scale - even going “big” in a small flat - and using windows, windowsills, ceilings and balconies and banisters if you have them. “You can get some fabulous snowflake stickers from stationery shops that you can stick onto windows, or boughs of greenery with battery powered fairy lights entwined in them that look great running up a banister,” she says. Nor does having children mean you have to abandon all sense of style, even though they often have a homing instinct for picking the most garish, gaudy decorations they can find. Bailey suggests allocating them their own corner to decorate, giving them a box of pre-selected decorations that they can use in any way they like, or letting them go wild in their own bedrooms. (Or you could discreetly change the choice and placement of tree ornaments and decorations once they’ve gone to bed). “I would advise not going overboard multicoloured flashing fairy lights are a definite

“no” in my book,” says Bailey. As with room decoration, similar rules apply to your table setting - don’t overdo it, invest in a couple of key festive pieces to go with what you already have, and keep it simple. Candles, fresh foliage, a table runner and sprinkles of table confetti are all relatively inexpensive elements that can easily be used to jazz up a table; coordinating napkins, namecards, placemats and crackers add to the elegance. Try filling a clear vase with baubles or fresh clementines, or a assembling a tower of crackers.

low down on the table or very high. If it is at eye level, it will only get in the way.” Christmas is a theme in itself, so you can pick an aspect such as winter woodland or the twelve days of Christmas and run with that. If you are entertaining children at the Christmas lunch table, incorporate table games like Secret Santa, or tactile centrepieces such as a nativity scene with wooden animals. Personalised messages and gifts at each person’s table setting create are also nice touches. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting into the spirit of the season and having some fun. M

What’s hot this winter

Who hasn’t felt a twinge of tree envy when faced with a friend’s stunningly decorated fir Stanley market is a great location for sourcing good quality, snow-white table linen; or try Sham Shui Po for inexpensive lengths of silvery fabric for table runners. “Be careful with the height of your centrepiece,” says Bailey. “It should either be

Pastels - combine pale blues and greens with pale grey and white, translucent, metallic and frosted. Rustic materials - go for a homemade approach with hessian, twine and brown paper packages. Vintage kitsch - bring on turquoise, hot pink, canary yellow, red and lime; the brighter, the better. Geometrics - delicate, angular baubles in gold and silver. Beautiful birds - peacoks, owls and birds of paradise as well as mini bird houses.

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home & living

Party pieces

Stuck for small talk? Not sure how to make an exit? Sir David Tang has you covered. ML: Do you enjoy Christmas? Sir David: Yes, yes, yes.

So your social diary must be looking pretty busy about now... No, no, no. I never accept any Christmas parties.

Oh, ok. How will you be spending Christmas Day then? I always spend it quietly with my family.

You’re a social kind of guy the rest of the year. What makes a good party?

Any advice for escaping the party from hell? If I don’t like the party, I simply slip away without saying goodbye to anyone.

Doesn’t politeness dictate that you seek out the host when you’re leaving? It really depends on how well you know the host. On the whole, if you’re leaving because you’re not enjoying the party, say nothing to the host. But if you’re leaving full of beans, then thank them.

What’s the biggest faux pas you’ve committed at a party?

A good party is one where the host only pays attention to his or her guests.

I don’t commit faux pas.

It’s often said it’s fashionable to be late, but how late is too late?

If you’re hosting, how do you go about evicting unwanted guests?

It is never fashionable to be late. People who are late are rude.

One should be firm about unwanted guests and drunks. You must make sure that they leave. With help if necessary.

Any tips for making small talk? All small talks should be banned.

How do you navigate duller guests? When you meet someone boring, leave them in mid-sentence.

Is it ok to serve prosecco? Yes because it’s all relative.

Are handwritten thank you notes still de rigeur? Email is an acceptable substitute these days. It’s not the mode of thanks that counts, it’s what you actually write that matters.

Sir David Tang publishes new book Rules For Modern Life

What about e-Christmas cards? I hate e-cards.

In terms of Christmas decorations, how do you dress your tree? Sleek and sophisticated or submerged in hand-crafted ornaments from younger family members? I like old-fashioned Christmas trees full of oldfashioned decorations.

Is an artificial tree ok? No. M

A bit about the book Sir David Tang is founder of the China Club, Shanghai Tang and the China Exchange. He lives in Hong Kong and writes a weekly column for London’s Financial Times, answering readers queries about anything from etiquette to grammar. His book, Rules For Modern Life, is available from Bookazine.


“If you think that I am doing this (Financial Times) column in order to enhance my social standing and reputation, and that I would become more famous and a better networker, would climb up the social ladder and command greater celebrity status; and that by being a regular contributor to the FT, the most prestigious international paper in the world, I would become the envy of other writers, established or aspiring - then you would be absolutely correct.”


home & living

How to do Sham Shui Po

Insider tips on navigating the fabric bedecked lanes of Sham Shui Po.


f you’re looking for advice on Sham Shui Po, home accessories designer Kim Buggins is your lady. She happily admits to spending “most of her time” trawling the lanes for materials and inspiration for her designs. She knows the suburb like the back of her hand, and is on first-name terms with many of the shopkeepers. So where to start? First up, a coffee. For those in the know, Cafe Sausalito on Tai Nan Street is the only place to go. “There didn’t used to be a lot here for coffee lovers,” admits Buggins. “But since (Sausalito owner) Michael Tam opened up, I have my perfect caffeine stop.” The coffee is indeed so good I would actually make a detour for it - along with a


lovely latte, Tam does a nice line in sandwiches, cakes and other assorted snacks and lunch items. Fully caffeined up, now it’s time to shop. For first-timers, the blocks of streets and myriad shops can be daunting. However, if you know what you’re doing, the roads can be divided into specific items. Yu Chau Street, for example, is all about beads and ribbons. While Buggins has a handful of personal favourites, she says on the whole they’re all pretty good. “And so cheap. You can buy an entire roll rather than just a length for a great price. My cupboards are groaning with rolls of ribbon, fantastic for giftwrapping.” Shopkeepers are also happy to cut

snippets if you need to go away and compare colour schemes. “From wrapping presents, trimming cushions or just keeping lengths of ribbon for kids’ hair ties, the products are great value,” says Buggins. Top buys at this time of year include Christmas-themed ribbons decorated with trees, gifts and stars, to anything glittery including yards of sparkling rope “which would look great as a tie for napkins or for hanging name labels onto chairs at the Christmas table. Also fabulous for trimming hand-made stockings and sacks.” The MTR end of the street is stuffed with bead and button shops. Let your imagination run riot - from stitching colourful beads onto

craft street stockings or gift bags, to creating necklaces for kids or using them to trim a plain dress or top, there are plenty of ways they can be used to accessorize. Tai Nan Street is chock full of leather goods. Certain shops offer masterclasses in leathermaking - Buggins recommends the bag making classes. Alternatively, the rolls of brightly coloured leather could be used for placemats at the Christmas lunch table. Ki Lung Street is a treasure trove of beautiful fabrics, including the fabric market. Ricky’s at 1J-1K Shek Kip Mei Street is overflowing (literally, some jostle on the pavement outside) with rolls of gorgeous material - there are loads of silver and gold options that would look great as table runners or napkins. Lengths of white cotton are good value and cheap enough to turn into luxurious looking table cloths that can soak up the odd red wine stain without worrying. It’s also worth rummaging inside the shop for the odd designer remnant - we turned up a gorgeous roll of Tory Burch end-of-line. Also recommended is Kazaf Chau on Yu Chau Street - the silks are to die for and would

make perfect party dresses or wraps. Buggins recommends purchasing materials (and also zips) to be tailored from Sham Shui Po rather than buying in Shenzhen - “the quality is better.” If you’re looking for stocking fillers, head to Fuk Wa Street, it’s bright, gaudy and perfect for cheap decorations, dress-ups and bits and pieces for the kids. Buggins’ Love Friday designs can be bought in Mirth, M

Where to go

Top tips

Coffee stop - Cafe Sausalito, 201 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, 6305 1887. Leather workshops - Tepee, 217 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po, 2488 9101; Brothers Leathercraft, 222 Tai Nan Street, SSP, 9136 0897. Rope - Wai Hung Weaving Factory, 90 Nam Cheong Street, Sham Shui Po, 2394 7838. Ribbon - Po Wai Knitting Limited, 150A Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po, 2361 1003; Cheng Hsing Ribbons Company, 162 Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2381 5611. Personalised ribbons and woven tags - Mei Shing Company, 164D Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2381 0991. Fabric - Ricky, 1J-1K Shek Kip Mei Street, SSP, 2393 3525; Moon Yue Piece Goods, 1/F, 125127 Yu Chau Street, SSP, 2789 9661.

DON’T go if it’s raining - a lot of the marketholders stay closed. DON’T go before 11am - Hong Kong is a late opening kind of city! DON’T go on a public holiday - many stores and market-holders will stay closed. DO take a small handbag and fold-away shopping bag - the fabric shops in particular are stuffed with treasures, you don’t want to be toting over-sized bags around the material rolls. DO catch the MTR - Sham Shui Po is on the Tsuen Wan (red) line, seven stops from Central, exit A1 and walk straight ahead until you reach “bead street” (Yu Chau Street). Happy shopping!




school visit

Victoria Shanghai Academy

Rebecca Simpson goes beyond the school gates at Aberdeen’s bilingual international school.

Happiness is central to learning,” assures Principal of Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA), Ross Dawson, and he would know. This is a man who has fused decades of education experience, a Master’s Degree in IT in Education and now a recent sabbatical studying Coaching Psychology at Sydney University. On paper he’s the perfect candidate to shepherd the modern student to great academic and personal success. In person he is passionate about education and the wellbeing of students. It’s no wonder VSA is delighted to have him back, now taking up the position of principal. VSA is a unique school in Hong Kong being one of a few schools that offers the IB Primary Years Programme in a bilingual format. What sets VSA apart is its ‘Eastmeets-West’ approach to education. Eastmeet-West is an overused term in our city, but at VSA the school is actively positioning itself in the middle of both Western and Chinese educational cultures – and that approach is very special indeed. What does East-meets-West mean, in practical terms? It means VSA is a through school offering an IB education with a wellness focus that begins at a Primary school level, and this is married with a Chinese work ethic and an enormous respect for the value of education. It’s also a truly bilingual school, Primary classes are taught in both English and Mandarin Chinese, and high school is taught in English with all students fluent in Chinese. Mindfulness In the classroom Hong Kong students are often in the news for the immense pressure they feel to perform at school. At VSA, in his new role as Principal, Dawson is leading a mindfulness program that aims to help students learn the skills they need to deal with the stresses and challenges life throws at them. He shares that the wellbeing of students is a focal point for VSA’s leadership. The teaching staff is passionate about enquirybased learning, the way technology can aid teaching and the science behind wellbeing and how our brains function best. Dawson shares that the school’s goal is that “all students are happy, healthy and accomplished. It’s in that order for a reason”. The school’s mindfulness program is inspired by MindUP, a product of the Hawn Foundation. Simple practices like stopping for a minute to enjoy VSA’s incredible view of

Aberdeen Harbour are encouraged and can set the tone of the day. “Empathy and gratitude are two big things we can all work on in life to make our lives happier”, says Dawson. It’s a good news day in education when we hear about a Hong Kong school that simultaneously values the happiness of students and encourages an inquisitive nature with a determination to do well. It’s a balancing act, but one that VSA is rehearsing with great detail from all angles.


education VSA’s bilingual offering In the Primary years, VSA offers a bilingual classroom experience whereby each class is taught simultaneously in English and Mandarin. “It’s a unique offering at VSA that we have two teachers in the classroom teaching simultaneously,“ shares Dawson. Practically, this means two teachers working very closely to deliver a lesson so that students learn concepts in two languages. Dr Judith Guy, Head of Academy and Secondary Principal at VSA, explains, “you may have two tables of children working together – one working with the Chinese teacher in Chinese, and the other in English.” This allows children to concurrently develop vocabulary about a particular unit of enquiry in both English and Chinese. “And that’s a lot of what Primary education is about, vocabulary acquisition,” she says. As one of only three schools in Hong Kong to offer a true bilingual IB Primary Years Program (PYP), VSA’s proposition is attractive to many parents. However the reality is that a minimum standard of Chinese and English must be met, even for admission to P1. Most VSA students join the PYP from Victoria Educational Organization (VEO), VSA’s kindergarten partner, which also offers a bilingual curriculum, readying students for a


bilingual PYP. For non-Chinese speaking families, a bilingual education does require some additional support outside the classroom. “Like with learning any language, you do need some exposure to it outside of school”, says Dawson. “It is ideal if children have playdates or an extracurricular activity, like learning an instrument, in that language.”

Teaching with technology Technology plays a daily role in the lives of VSA students. Each pupil from Year 6 onwards is guaranteed the use of their own personal laptop. “We are trying to do a lot of work with both our student and our parent body, around responsible use of technology.” explains Guy. Students at VSA are learning to be better digital citizens, and so are their parents.

school visit for parents too, with the school providing suggestions for parental software and inviting parents to coffee mornings to discuss approaches to technology.

“It’s a two-pronged approach really”, adds Dawson, who sees this technology-based education falling into two parts with the first part being to protect children. “Parents really need parental software on all devices,” he encourages. The second part is a focus on education and teaching students to be a good digital citizen. At VSA these conversations falls into the ‘Who We Are’ unit of learning where students explore relationships and also ask what makes a good digital relationship? It’s a practical communication piece

Fusion of Chinese heritage and student-centric thinking Celebrating Chinese culture is also central to the experience on offer for VSA students. Students and their families can participate in travel experiences to Mainland China, and even exchange student programmes. The school has a strong Arts program with some exceptional Chinese artists within the student body, this year VSA’s Deputy Head Girl is performing in the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. For students interested in exploring Chinese cultural activities, VSA offers a Chinese cultural subsidy programme where students can choose to explore a traditional art such as a Chinese instrument, calligraphy and other cultural endeavours. Principal Dawson believes it’s this combination of encouragement for students to learn about themselves, Chinese culture and the world; all in a bilingual environment that values academic achievement that VSA parents love. “That’s why parents send their children here, our great bilingual programme and that we value holistic excellence”. M

School Report

Established: 2004 Number of students: 1,800 Class size: 28 Curriculum: IB PYP, IB MYP and IB DP Fees 2016/2017: (PYP) $118,700; (MYP & DP) $135,300 - $171,450 Non-refundable capital levy: N/A Teaching staff: 176 Address: 19 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Tel: 3402 1000

Prepare your child for school interviews and assessments. ITS Education Asia Tel: 852 2116 3916 Email:



A Lapland winter wonderland

Callum Wiggins makes a trip to Finland in search of the Northern Lights and Santa Claus.


arctic adventures




n an old Finnish folk tale the Northern Lights are conjured by the arctic fox. It is said as the fox runs through the snow its tail sweeps snow into the sky creating the Northern Lights. The lights, as many can attest who have searched for them of an evening, can be as elusive as the arctic fox itself. Thankfully Lapland remains one of the best locations in the world to see the lights. With specialist light hunting companies employing the latest in live aurora tracking technologies, chances grow even stronger. Arriving in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland and a one hour flight from Helsinki, we met our tour guides for our first evening of Northern Lights hunting. Beyond Arctic (www. runs small photography tours to hunt down the unpredictable phenomenon. Friends Juho and Juho use aurora forecasting feeds and local weather reports to stand the best possible chance. Wrapped up in layer upon layer of warm clothing to brave the minus 20 degree celsius conditions, our hunt begins with a drive some kilometres away from Rovaniemi to escape any unwanted light pollution. Setting up camp by the edges of a frozen lake, our hunt for the lights takes a surprisingly short amount of time. A greenish hue becomes visible in the sky above just mere minutes after arriving. The hue gradually becomes more visible and a clear streak of green light comes from a northerly direction. Just as quickly as the lights arrived,


the camp fire Warming up at

they soon begin to fade away. Our spirits are raised and expectations high as we continue our journey deeper into Lapland’s wilderness. A tour with Beyond Arctic comes readily equipped with sophisticated cameras and tripods; this allows amateur lights hunters like us to enjoy the evening without worrying about getting the perfect photo. Setting up camp again about 20 minutes further from Rovaniemi, Juho and Juho are confident that this will be the ideal location and a roaring fire is soon keeping us warm at the campsite. Sausages are roasted on the open fire, the lake cracks and howls as the water freezes over and a fresh pot of coffee is brewed. We wait patiently.

The un forgett able No rthern Lights It’s not too long before the arctic foxes come out to play once again. From small whispers of greenish light, stronger vibrant streams of light suddenly appear with an intensity that is reflected by the frozen lake. The camera shutters click as we gaze with wonder into the sky. Minutes pass as we watch the show in silence before the lights begin to fade. We’re lucky to have been treated to such a long display of the notoriously unpredictable aurora. Our evening with Beyond Arctic is rounded off with freshly cooked pancakes on the dying campfire and we take our tired but contented souls back to the warmth of the hotel.



Next stop – Santa As the exact location of Santa’s home is a secret known only by a chosen few, Rovaniemi has been designated his official home where he welcomes visitors to the Santa village every day of the year. We decide that a visit to Lapland wouldn’t be complete without personally handing Santa our Christmas wishlists. “Lei ho!” booms Santa Claus as we enter his grotto. We are suitably impressed with Santa’s Cantonese and are guided to seats beside him by his elves. “Have you been good boys this year?” asks Santa, whose deep and jolly voice does not disappoint. “I think so”, I reply gingerly. Every visitor to his grotto is treated to a personal meeting with Santa, while tech-savvy elves are on hand to help take pictures and record the special moment on video. Each year the attraction draws more than 300,000 visitors from around the world. Recent years have seen the number of families from Asia increase considerably. Next door to Santa’s grotto lies Santa Claus’ Main Post Office. Letters from around the world addressed to Santa are processed by a small army of elves who reply to each and every letter (provided there is a return address!). Last year, the post office received more than 500,000 letters with nearly every country in the world sending at least one letter.


Aside from a few small countries in Africa, the post office tells us that they’re only awaiting a letter from North Korea to complete its world map. We speculate the wait may continue for some years yet. We are glad to see that children in Hong Kong have not lost the Christmas spirit as a large pile of letters from the SAR has already accumulated in the letter box. Wilderness tours in Luosto Leaving Rovaniemi we take a a short 90-minute bus trip to the small town of Luosto. For those looking to stay somewhere a little out of the ordinary, Santa’s Hotel Aurora is comprised of 10 glass-roofed igloos, offering a unique way to experience the Northern Lights and Lapland’s star-filled skies. In order to give guests the best possible chance of seeing the Aurora, each room is even equipped with a mobile phone to signal guests when the aurora is in the vicinity. On our first day in Luosto we meet Mr Eero Fisk, the founder of Kairankutsu - Call of the Wilderness tours which aims to give small tour groups a true outdoor adventure in the Lappish wilderness. Pyha-Luosto National Park, famous in Finland for its deep gorges and ancient hillside trees, has a number of hiking routes open to the public. Our guide Eero belies his years and energetically hikes through the park with frequent pauses to share his vast knowledge of the

Hong Kong om fr s er tt e l Lots of for Santa natural landscape and tips for hiking in the wintry conditions. Our exploration of the park sees us track animal footprints, scavenge for wild berries under a blanket of snow and even adopt a tree. “When a tree calls out to you we will stop and you will connect with your tree”. Eero explains. “You will always remember your tree and it will always remember you”. Noticing a rather robust looking birch in a small clearing, I tell Eero that a tree has caught my eye. Taking a few moments to fully take in the impressive specimen, I’m instructed to hug the tree and feel a connection to the forest. Thankfully we have chosen a quiet

arctic adventures day to hike the park. When our paths do cross with other hikers, Eero is quick to enquire about their route and whether they are familiar with the conditions. In the harsh winters of Lapland with its vast landscapes, becoming lost or getting into difficulty can quickly become treacherous and the terrain must be given respect. Santa’s little helpers Not just Santa’s trusty sleigh pullers, reindeer are vital to the local economy in Lapland with each and every animal owned by a reindeer herder. Each of Lapland’s roughly 200,000 reindeer are all rounded up twice a year for counting and ear marking. Each herder makes his or her own distinct marking in the reindeer’s ear for identification as these designs are often passed down through the family. The Kopara Reindeer Park welcomes the public to learn more about the reindeer by getting up close to see the animals. Feeding time is a frenzy but the reindeer are generally tame and well-trained especially in the case of the selected sleigh pullers. Sleigh rides through the forest are an excellent way to venture into the local surroundings and riders are kept warm under thick reindeer hides. Make sure to book in advance to secure a reindeer or husky sleigh ride during the busy winter season. Lapland really is a destination with something for everyone. There are plenty of outdoor hikes and excursions not to mention extreme sports for thrill seekers. Culture vultures will be happy with a number of quality museums and exhibitions of the people and history of Lappish culture. Children (and adults too) will be enchanted with Santa’s village and the chance to see the man himself. A trip to Lapland need not just remain on your wishlist for Christmas. M

Plan your trip When to visit: December to February are the peak months for tourists and winter activities. Why visit: Finland celebrates 100 years of independence during 2017 so expect a number of national celebrations and centenary events. Flights: Fly directly from Hong Kong to Helsinki with Finnair and take advantage of Finnair’s up to five night stopover. Visit for more details. We stayed at: Arctic Light Hotel, Rovaniemi, Santa’s Hotel Aurora, Luosto, More information:

Santa’s elves on a frozen e d ri h g i e l s y k A hus lake!

Fancy a dip? WWW.MID-LEVELS.CO | 59


An inspector calls SPCA Inspector Kwong Tze Shun (Bob) has been in the job for 20 years. He reflects on two decades of rescuing animals. When I joined the SPCA Inspectorate in 1995, there were no other animal welfare organisations or government departments devoted to animal rescue. I heard about the job from my girlfriend at the time and thought I would give it a go. Before joining, I underwent a physical examination and language test. I received some basic veterinary training but most of the training is on the job. On my first day I was partnered with a senior inspector on a dog rescue case in Tuen Mun. The dog had been involved in a car accident that left him immobile in his hind legs. He was still able to move rapidly with his forelegs and ended up falling into a water catchment. We rescued him and took him to the SPCA’s 24-hour hospital.

During my early years of service I often had to go into villages where many homeowners loved to keep dogs as guard dogs. Often, the dogs were not provided with adequate food and water - it was hard to know whether they had been abandoned by their owners or if they had just been left unattended temporarily. We would undertake multiple home visits and speak to neighbours to ensure there was no animal cruelty. In my experience, most cases of mistreatment are due to owner negligence. Only a small portion involve intentional cruelty. It’s more common for us to rescue a lost or injured pet and return it to the owner, than rescue a pet that is being mistreated by its owner. 10 years ago, we were at a loss as to what to do when we received dogs and cats suspected of having been poisoned. Now, we send their bodies to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) laboratory for toxicological testing. The evidence obtained can greatly assist our investigations. The manpower, resources and hard work involved is immense, something of which the public is probably unaware. In my 20 years of service I have learned much about animals and - most importantly - how to communicate articulately and patiently between pet owners and informants. During this time, I think Hongkongers’ attitudes towards animals have drastically: there is greater awareness of animal welfare. However, there is still no consensus on the form it should take, which produces misunderstanding and can be dispiriting.


We go for walkies with Jasper Lee.

Q: Tell us about your dog. My dog is called Kabu. He is two years old and a bundle of energy. Q: Favourite walk? Kabu loves to go for walks anywhere, although more often than not it’s he who takes me for a walk… One of our favourite walks is to go up and down the Morning Trail to The Peak. He gets to meet some friends along the way and it’s nice there’s not a car in sight. The big grass park at Cyberport is another favourite. We love to take a small picnic in the good weather and meet other dog owners. Q: What makes Kabu special? The best word to describe Kabu is ‘frisky’. He has a lot of love to give and he’s not afraid to show it. People who meet him never forget him. Q: Best place for doggie supplies? Luckily where we live in Sai Ying Pun is blessed with lots of pet supply stores and there are always new stores opening. There is a real growing community of pet lovers in Hong Kong. Q: To you Kabu is… … a friend who is always happy to see me and we love to spend time together. It’s amazing how much our personalities have matched from the very beginning and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

What we hold inviolable is to save animals from unnecessary suffering. I have a twelve-year-old pug at home and every time I rescue a pet and give it back to its owner, I am very aware of the significance of the SPCA’s work. The SPCA Inspectorate are on call 24/7, rescuing animals across Hong Kong. If you see an animal requiring assistance or suspect animal cruelty, call the animal rescue hotline on 2711 1000.


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The oldest surviving Cathedral in Hong Kong

St John’s Cathedral

Eric Ho visits the city’s oldest yet still thriving Cathedral.


ocated in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district, the early English and Gothic architecture of St John’s Cathedral can’t help but seem a little out of place. Long before the glitzy skyscrapers were erected though, the Cathedral’s foundation stones were laid in 1847 during the beginning of Hong Kong’s expansion under colonial rule. Still in service today, St John’s Cathedral is now the oldest surviving Cathedral in Hong Kong managing to even survive the turbulent period of history during the Second World War. On Christmas morning in 1941, a group of 100 worshippers gathered at St John’s Cathedral for one last mass. That day a barrage of Japanese shells rained upon the city, with the day later becoming known as Black Christmas - the start of the Japanese Occupation. During the war, St John’s Cathedral


continued to be a place of worship until 1944 when the Japanese converted the Cathedral into a clubhouse. The building suffered extensive damage with much of the furniture and fittings, including the stained glass windows, stripped out and moved to St Paul’s Church, St Mary’s Church and the French Convent in Causeway Bay including the Bishop’s own house to prevent damages. After the war was over, the Cathedral immediately reopened. It faced an enormous challenge in funding the restoration, but with the help of the community, the Cathedral was gradually restored and later extended to adopt the shape of cross - the design still seen today. Reminders of the war can still be found inside the cathedral today, head inside to St Michael’s Chapel on the right hand side; hanging from above are the tattered flags once raised during the war. M



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