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Mid-levels magazine

Your guide to Lunar New Year

Sweet Home


January 2017

Inside a snug and stylish renovation

Healthy bites around town A luxury weekend at Banyan Tree Lang Co Who is the Bowen Road dog poisoner ?


Mid-levels magazine

The really useful magazine January 2017



4 Snapped! Life around Mid-levels.

20 Pooch poisoning Has the infamous dog poisoner on Bowen Road struck again?

THE PLANNER 8 Happening in January Events for your diary. NEWS 12 What’s going on? In your backyard.

COVER STORY 22 Feels like home A snug and stylish Mid-levels renovation. HOME & LIVING

SPECIAL FEATURE 14 Lunar New Year Top things to do during the festive period. FIVE MINUTES WITH... 18 Lau Si Fu St Paul’s College’s long-serving janitor.

28 Baby, it’s cold outside Tips and tricks to keep your nest warm this winter. Plus, some of our favourite soft furnishing items. EATING 32 Healthy bites Ditch the salad and try out these tasty bites. Plus, the latest news from the dining scene.

ARTS & CULTURE 40 Hong Kong Arts Festival What’s on the programme at this year’s festival. HEALTH & WELLNESS 42 One for the diary Some of the best health and wellness events coming up. YOGA YODA 44 When I was little I wanted to be... Victor Chau talks childhood dreams. EDUCATION 46 Hong Kong Academy Behind the scenes at our featured school.

BIG DAY OUT 50 Macau makeover Go beyond the casinos and croupiers. TRAVEL 54 Banyan Tree Lăng Cô And relax... PETS 60 Desexing demystified Should you desex your furry friend? Plus, walkies with Nancy Trueman. MONEY & ME 64 Rendy Ng Money talks with the diamonds and gem specialist.




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JAN 20-22

Ballet Classics for Children: Cinderella

Be entranced by the beauty of dance and music with the adaptations of ballet classics by choreographer Yuri Ng. Tickets $180, $280 from Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

JAN 1&2 Dragon and Lion Dance Festival Ring in the New Year with colourful dragons, lions, acrobats and more as celebrations for the start of 2017 take to the streets. Performances take place across Hong Kong, from the Star Ferry to Ocean Park and Victoria Peak.

UNTIL JAN 2 Ocean Park Christmas Sensation 2016 Attractions include a 4D stage show, the allnew Penguin Dress-Up Delights and the Cyber Illusion Spectacular stage show featuring worldclass illusionists, Michael Boyd and Cassandra Gasser (finalists of the reality show, Australia’s

Got Talent). Watch them perform lightning-fast costume changes, disappearances, double levitations and fire cage escapes. Make sure to visit Santa’s Tree Hut and the Park’s signature, giant 40-foot Christmas tree.

JAN 8 & THE 2ND SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH Music by the Sea Stanley’s monthly busking event is back. With a variety of songs ranging from classic, pop and even originals, head over and relax by the sea with some great live music. 2:30pm – 4:30pm, Stanley Plaza.

JAN 14 Bryan Adams Get Up Tour Multi-platinum selling artist Bryan Adams returns to Hong Kong after his last show in town in 1993. One of Canada’s best-selling artists, Adams is stopping by Hong Kong as part of his worldwide Get Up Tour 2017. Tickets $480-$980 at or call 3128 8288. Asia-World Expo, Hall 10.


Stanley’s Music by the Sea returns.


KidsFest 2017 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.

JAN 14 SCAD Hong Kong Workshop day Prospective students and their families can explore the innovative learning environments at the historic North Kowloon Magistracy Building and the university’s home in Sham Shui Po. Meet with SCAD representatives and join the interactive workshop. Free, 2pm-5pm, 292 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po. For more information, email or call 2253 8044.

SCAD’s home in Sham Shui Po.

UNTIL JAN 22 Wicked 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.

JAN 20 Metallica in Hong Kong Channel your inner rock god or goddess as Metallica makes their debut in Hong Kong. Tickets start at $580 from 8pm, Asia World-Expo.

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 plays host once again 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



BOOK NOW FEB 25-26 Dragonland Music Festival

MAR 16-19 Taste of Hong Kong

MAR 20-25 Art Central

Hong Kong’s first outdoor concert combining pop and electronic dance music with some of the world’s chart-topping artists like Black Eyed Peas, Zedd, Iggy Azalea and Redfoo. Hong Kong favourite, Leon Lai will be holding a special concert during the festival. Central Harbourfront. Tickets from

Enjoy signature dishes from the city’s finest restaurants, learn tricks of the trade from worldclass chefs and sample gourmet food and drink while enjoying live entertainment. Central Harbourfront Event Space.Tickets start from $108 from

Art Central returns to Central Harbourfront for its third edition, featuring over 100 leading international galleries. Large-scale installations, performances, talks and panel discussions await Hong Kong’s growing art community. Tickets start from $230 from

Got an event? We can publish the details for free. Email




Interactive exhibition at PMQ PMQ turns the spotlight upon Central Hong Kong with the launch of an interactive exhibition titled “LONG TIME NO SEE: A Virtual Encounter with Neighbourly Nostalgia”. The centrepiece of the exhibition is an interactive mural drawn by local artist Bo Law who as a boy grew up in PMQ in its previous life as the Police Married Quarters. Painstakingly hand drawn over the course of two months, Law incorporates the area’s heritage buildings into the mural including Tai Kwun, Central Market, Man Mo Temple and Kom Tong Hall, which is today the Dr Sun Yat Sen memorial museum. Marking the artist’s largest scale work to date, the mural features his personal connection with PMQ and the local area in which aspects of his life as a curious young boy are interspersed amongst the buildings, streets and everyday life.

Artist Bo Law and his mural in PMQ

Augmented reality adds another layer to the exhibition as parts of the mural are brought alive on your smartphone screen by downloading the AR-EX app.

New children’s book on endangered Hainan Gibbon Hong Kong-based author Matt Cooper has published a new book, The Last Gibbon. “I read about the Hainan Gibbon in an article on the BBC website about two years ago and was shocked to hear that the most endangered primate in the world was just an hour’s flight from Hong Kong and yet I’d never even heard of it,” says Cooper. “I asked around and even a friend from Hainan itself hadn’t heard about the gibbons! So I decided to put that straight by writing a book that introduced children - and, hopefully, their parents - to the gibbon and its precarious situation.” The book, endorsed on the back cover by Dr. Jane Goodall (primatologist, anthropologist and famous for her lifelong work with chimpanzees) also includes a non-fiction section where readers can learn more about gibbons in general and what they can do to help them. “[Dr. Goodall] is one of my heroes so to meet her in person was amazing,” says Cooper. “I plan to visit Hainan in the near future to see the gibbons in the wild - apparently it’s a difficult trek to reach them and I’ve read that Hainan is home to the most poisonous tree in the world so that could be interesting!” Available at most bookstores in Hong Kong, including Bookazine, 46 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central.


LONG TIME NO SEE: A Virtual Encounter with Neighbourly Nostalgia runs until March 31 in room H402 from 10am until 8pm. Admission is free. PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central.

Entertain yourself Treat yourself from the outset this year with over 1,700 buy one get one free offers from The Entertainer. The mobile app features deals from some of Hong Kong’s best restaurants, cafes, as well as beauty and fitness centres which are available seven days a week, all year long. Some of our favourite Mid-levels’ restaurants on The Entertainer include SEPA, Oolaa, Staunton’s, Panevino and Sole Mio. It’s worth checking with the server before ordering to enquire about any restrictions on the menu, but most main course items are usually redeemable when using the app. Save $100 on the retail price of $475 by downloading the app in January for $375 and then watch the savings rack up throughout the year. You’re welcome! For more details, visit


special feature




things to do

Clean up

Homes are thoroughly cleaned in the run up to Lunar New Year, with dust swept into the middle of the room and then out the door to symbolise sweeping bad luck away. Going one step further, some homeowners paint door frames and windows in order to welcome good luck in. However, it is considered bad luck to clean during New Year week, as you may sweep away the good fortune – so get your home in order before January 28.



Watch the Chinese New Year Night Parade



The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade has been the highlight of the season in Hong Kong for over 20 years. The parade features spectacular floats and international performers including marching bands, cheerleaders and dance troupes as they make their way through

Visit the Flower Markets

Brace the crowds and visit the flower markets to brighten up your home during Lunar New Year. The biggest of all takes place at Victoria Park which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Orchids are particularly auspicious to buy but any flowering plant that takes your eye will do. Offerings have expanded far beyond flowers and plants in recent years as visitors can also pick up decorations, homeware items and souvenirs. Jostle with the crowds on the last day of the market to pick up a bargain when prices are slashed.


Buy an orange tree

Oranges symbolise abundant happiness, while tangerines with the leaves attached have the additional meaning of a secure relationship between giver and receiver, making them popular gifts at Lunar New Year. Many homes are adorned with potted kumquat trees, studded with tiny orange fruit that symbolise prosperity and good fortune. The fruit’s Chinese name, kam gat shu, sounds like the words for luck and gold. Attach red lai see packets containing a banknote for a really authentic touch. Bear in mind that the trees are grown more for aesthetic appeal than for great-tasting fruit.


the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. The parade starts at 8pm and freestanding spectators can watch the show along Canton Road, Haiphong Road and Nathan Road. Arrive early as the crowds can get busy. Ticketed spectator stands open from 7pm and tickets can be bought from the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre at the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui.

kung hei fat choi


Watch the firework display

Grab a good spot along the harbour to catch the amazing annual fireworks show. Fireworks and firecrackers are believed to scare away evil spirits, so expect a spectacular display. The fireworks usually take place on the second day of the Lunar New Year - January 29 this year. Visit for more details.


Give lai see

Not sure how much to put in that red pocket? Here’s our handy guide to spread festive cheer: $20 for an acquaintance you see regularly but don’t know well, such as a doorman. $40 for somebody close to you such as friends’ children or your hairdresser. $100 as a generous gift to someone you care about and is generally the minimum a boss gives an employee. $500-plus – this is not unheard of, but it is usually given with a good motive or during birthdays or weddings. DO SAY: “Sun Tai Kin Hong” - when giving lai see to express wishes of good health.

The 15-day grace period Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days from day one of the lunar calendar, and lai see is given only during this period – not before or after. This year, the grace period falls from January 28 until February 11.


Win big at Chinese New Year Race Day

Strike it lucky on the first races of the year at Sha Tin Racecourse. Hopeful punters descend on the course with the first races of the day January starting from 11am. Visit for more details.

Calligraphy 101 Look out for these auspicious characters and phrases.

福 Luck, prosperity

樂 Happiness

壽 Longevity




Visit the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are a popular shrine located in Fong Ma Po village near to Tai Po. The two banyan trees are visited by thousands of people during Lunar New Year celebrations. Previously, joss paper was tied to an orange and thrown into the tree in an attempt to hang it from a high branch to bring good luck. While the tree undergoes a period of recovery, wooden racks have been erected besides the trees to hang wishes from. An artificial tree now stands next to the Tin Hau Temple where fortune-seekers holding plastic mandarins attached with wishes can throw them onto the branches. One mandarin should be about $25. Take bus 64K or 64P from Tai Po Market station, get off at Fang Ma Po.

Happy New Year

恭喜發財 Prosperous New Year


special feature

Lunar New Year horoscope What’s in store for you in the year of the rooster?

Year: 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

Year: 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Year: 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Resourceful and versatile, nothing will stand in the way this year for those born in the year of the rat. Challenges may come thick and fast but you will be well prepared to not just weather the storm, but emerge brighter on the other side.

Both good and bad news await those born in the year of the ox. You will be defined this year by success in both your personal relationships and career. Remember to network and socialise to capitalise on this fortunate time. The bad news? It won’t come easy due to the influence of the rooster, so ox will need to work hard and persevere.

After a year of bad luck, there’s light at the end of the tunnel as 2017 is shaping up to be a better year for those born in the year of the tiger. It’s looking like a lucky year in the love department, so if you’re single get ready to mingle. Already married? Go the extra step for your partner and strengthen the bonds of your connection.

Year: 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Year: 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Year: 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

2017 will be a year of uncommon change and hard work for the usually relaxed, easy-going “artiste” of the zodiac, as it confronts its exact opposite: the rooster. But keep calm and carry on. Take the time to do little favours for others that boost their spirits. You may confront a few problems this year, but you will find the solutions by trusting your innate sense of creativity and thinking outside the proverbial box. Finally, you will soon receive a surprising request - think carefully before you accept or reject.

Typically strong-willed and forceful of character, those born in the year of the dragon may have to reign in their enthusiasm and take a more democratic approach to problems this year. A thoughtful and pragmatic approach could bring greater rewards for you and those around you. Trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is also greatly encouraged in what could potentially be an extremely prosperous year.

This year will be a great year to socialise and be the enigmatic creature that you are, snakes. You’ve got great energy around you so pick up a new hobby and try something new acquaintances that you meet might play an important role in your life. You may encounter some health problems along the way - sore throat, blisters, dry skin - but nothing serious. It’s recommended that you go forth with caution and not make any major changes this year, 2017 is a year about making incremental progress and improvements.


kung hei fat choi

Year: 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Year: 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Year: 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

This year isn’t going to be your best year but it also won’t be your worst. You will be demanded to be thorough, realistic and clear in your approach; your hard work will be reaped with rewards later down the track. Travelling is the most favoured aspect for horses in 2017, so travel when you can to regain energy and find beauty in your surroundings. Your fortune, professionally and financially, will turn towards the end of the year, especially in the last few months as we enter the year of the dog.

Don’t expect the year of the rooster to be one of smooth sailing. This year you will face many difficult challenges in different areas of your life - whether that be your career, love or health. But it’s not all doom and gloom, keep the positive vibe going and tackle the challenges head on to reap the rewards.

Resist the urge to scratch that itch and be less hasty with your decision making. Suddenly changing job or taking a spontaneous holiday may not be as rewarding in the long run. Seek advice and wisdom from those that you trust. Your relationships will remain steady and true and this will give you great comfort before embarking on a year of change in 2018.

Year: 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005

Year: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006

Year: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007

2017 is your zodiac year, which usually means a bit of bad luck. But don’t panic, my righteous and resourceful friend. Surround yourself with gladioli and cockscomb for good luck and bring more gold, brown and yellow into your home and work environment. Avoid the colour red. Lucky days for you this year are the 4th and 26th of the month. Finally, remember, the key to moving forward is letting go of the past.

The year of 2017 will bring great changes to those born in the year of the dog. It’s the year to be more open to opportunities you previously considered but never took the leap in taking. Whether you are considering changes in your career, relationship or personal setup, now is not the time to be conservative. You will be rewarded for your courage. Woof!

Stand up tall and make yourself heard, 2017 is the year to shine at work. Whether it’s that long-awaited promotion you’ve been dreaming of or finally getting the recognition that you deserve, this is the year to make it happen. Strike when the opportunity arises and don’t let self-doubt hold you back. You’re a winner.


five minutes with

Mid-levels Lau Si Fu magazine


Tom Hilditch

Senior janitor of St Paul’s College talks to Robyn Or about his 45 years of service to the school.


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 Angela Tufvesson Belinda Bamford Hayden Kwok Kate Davies Robyn Or Victor Chau

Published by

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

I have worked at St Paul’s College since I was 17. Right after I finished my final exam, a worker from St Paul’s College told my mother that the school was looking for a janitor and asked if I would give it a try. I had the job interview and was hired straight away. I started work the next day. My mother said that I wasn’t much of an academic person as I had to repeat grades at school. Back in those days there wasn’t a compulsory education system and I started school when I was nine. My parents owned a poultry shop in Sai Ying Pun market. I used to help them after I finished school. Things were simple during those days. Boys would play hopscotch or card games while girls would play skipping in the street. The change in the Western district around St. Paul’s College has been dramatic. In the past, Water Street was filled with dai pai dongs and family-owned stores. The playground that I used to spend my childhood has now become an MTR station.


At first I was responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the school. I would serve tea and snacks for visitors and also help prepare the school events like sports day and anniversary celebrations. My English has improved a lot thanks to listening to my colleagues everyday. Even the English teachers say that my English is good! The teachers and students often call me ‘Superman’. On a usual day I wake up at 5:30am, go into school to turn on the water heater so the teachers can make tea and then I check all the air conditioners. My lunch break usually only lasts for 10 minutes as somebody usually needs my help. The school dormitory for janitors was demolished in the 90s for renovation work. Before the demolition, I always played basketball with my co-workers after finishing work. Sometimes I needed to stay at school overnight and I enjoyed laying down on the podium and watching the planes flying in the sky.

I am on call for 24 hours a day. As the key holder of the school, I have to be the last person to leave school. One time a coworker called me for the location of the mop during my trip to Switzerland! Many celebrities have graduated from St Paul’s College. Lawrence Cheng Tan-shui was born to be a presenter as he was very chatty! He always stayed behind school to talk with his classmates. This year is the 165th anniversary of St Paul’s College and it also marks my 45 years of service to the school. Many people ask me how could I work for the same job for nearly half a century; I tell them that I feel part of the family and that I enjoy working here very much. I don’t have any children so I see the students as my sons and daughters. I am honoured to give a speech during the new school term ceremony. I dress formally and the students tell me I look very handsome! During the speech I remind students to pay attention in class, not to play with their mobile phones when crossing the street, just like a father would. M



Mid-levels Has the Bowen Road dog magazine


Digital Marketing Manager Charmaine Mirandilla

poisoner returned?

Recent reports of dog poisonings in the area raise fears that the infamous dog poisoner has returned, writes Callum Wiggins.

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.


An SPCA inspector puts up warning posters on Bowen Road.


ecent cases of dog poisonings on Bowen Road and the surrounding area have raised fears that the infamous Bowen Road dog poisoner may have returned. Over 200 dogs and an unknown number of cats and wild animals have been poisoned in the area since cases were first reported in the early 1990’s, according to the SPCA. Recent reports of dogs becoming ill after walking along the stretch of road have prompted many on social media to claim that dogs are being targeted once again. Although patrols by the SPCA’s inspectorate team are sporadically conducted during the night, nobody has thus far been caught and linked to the crimes. Hong Kong resident Bianca Patzschke was recently looking after two rescue dogs, Jasper and Jade, while their owners were abroad. After enjoying some drinks with a friend in the outdoor seating area of Stone Nullah Tavern in Wan Chai with the dogs earlier that evening, Patzschke was woken at 3am by the sound of one of the dogs crying out in pain. “At first I thought Jade was having a crazy

dream so I tried to snap her out of it”, she explained. “But then I realised she was having a very strong seizure.” Despite rushing the dog to the vet, Jade passed away after emergency treatment did not work. Another tragic turn of events was to follow as, after returning home and taking Jasper for a short walk before returning to bed, Patzschke was again woken by a dog in discomfort. “At 8.30am I heard a noise as Jasper was scratching at the door. I got up to comfort him before seeing the familiar signs of pain I had witnessed in Jade just a few hours earlier.” Jasper subsequently passed away a few hours later. “I am convinced that the dogs were poisoned by something that they found on the street”, said Patzschke. “No animal should ever have to suffer like they did”. A police report wasn’t filed after the incident. Visible symptoms displayed by dogs who have ingested poison include vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, convulsions and breathing difficulties. These initial symptoms can quickly lead to

collapse and death. The Hong Kong Dog Rescue Facebook page was alight with activity last month as posters expressed their outrage over yet more poisoning cases in the area as well as an outpouring of grief for the dogs and their owner. “I used to walk my dog on Bowen Road”, one said. “But I don’t anymore because of the infamous poisoning incidents”. Many others voiced disbelief that the police have still not managed to catch the culprits. Long-time Hong Kong residents will likely remember news of Chris Patten’s dog, Whiskey, being poisoned after eating contaminated chicken found on Bowen Road. Thankfully the last governor of Hong Kong’s dog made a full recovery, however, the culprit was never found. Dog walkers in the area are advised to leash their dogs and keep away from the sides of the road where the baited food is often left. Basket muzzles can also be used to prevent anything from being picked up and eaten. In the meantime, the hunt for the Bowen Road dog poisoner continues. M


cover story


Feels like home

ideal homes

Warm, elegant and full of personal touches, Adele Brunner discovers how one couple undertook a complete renovation to create the home of their dreams.


cover story


hen interior designer Nicole Cromwell (www.nicolecromwell. com) was commissioned to work on this Mid-levels project, her initial design brief was for a few minor renovations. By the time she and her clients had reached the planning stages, they had decided to gut the 2,800-square-foot flat and start from scratch. “It is amazing how quickly one change led to another,” says Cromwell. “In the end, the only thing we didn’t really renovate was the guest powder room - and even then we gave it a bit of a facelift by covering glass panels with painted plywood so that it matched the rest of the apartment. The décor was also too modern for my clients’ taste. They wanted less of an anonymous box, and more of a colonial feel instead.” The apartment originally had five bedrooms, which Cromwell’s clients didn’t need, so she decided to reconfigure the space and make better use of it. The bedrooms were variously converted into a fabulous master suite complete with separate his and hers walk-in wardrobes and a large en-suite bathroom, a study, an en-suite guest room and a tv snug, which can be opened up to become part of the living and dining areas when required. Working closely with her client, who wanted to be involved in the design process, Cromwell came up with a warm and elegant look. “The apartment definitely leans to more traditional décor but that must not be confused with being old fashioned,” she says. “My clients love colour and weren’t afraid of using it - that’s what gives their home its richer feel.” Accents of purple, red and deep blue run throughout the property – often where you might least expect them. A wall of floor-toceiling shelves, custom-designed by Cromwell, for example, have been stained a deep blue, paying homage to one of the libraries at Oxford University, of which Cromwell’s client is a former alumnus.


The floor-to-ceiling shelves were custom-designed to pay homage to one of the libraries at Oxford University.


cover story


ideal homes From wooden chests to ornaments, a Chinese flavour is apparent throughout the apartment. Separating the living area from the snug is a fabulous blue leather door that is studded on either side and reminiscent of a moon gate. It adds visual interest to both rooms and ties in with the blues of the silk rug, ottoman and artwork, giving the area a cohesive feel. The clients’ impressive collection of Chinese art, acquired over many years, played a major part in the thought process and was central to the design scheme. One particular piece, which apparently takes three years before the paint has completely dried, was teamed with a bio-ethanol fire burner and a majestic charcoal marble fireplace to draw the eye in and give focus to the living room. “My clients didn’t want a television in the living area so we needed to create a focal point – otherwise, they would have been sitting on the sofa staring at a blank wall,” says Cromwell. “I designed the fireplace and sourced the marble in Lockhart Road.” Tactile fabrics and pattern also play an important part in the flat’s aesthetics, with liberal use of plush velvet, linens, leather and silk. The entrance features French hand-painted silk wallpaper by Fromental, which is very delicate and had to be painstakingly hung, while the guest bathroom is lined in black silk with black marble units and cladding. “My clients wanted a more masculine feel in the guest bathroom because [the man of the house] often gets up early for work and doesn’t want to disturb his wife by using the master bathroom,” explains Cromwell. “It is quite bold to do black – especially in a small space – but it works well and is quite fun.” The kitchen is no less luxurious, with a Chinese ancestor painting on one wall, a Buddha statue on the counter and even a silk rug on the floor. This is deliberately done to make the kitchen an integral part of the whole living area rather than being more like a separate entity. “We definitely wanted the kitchen to flow on from the living and dining room and we used the same wooden flooring to enhance this continuity as well as rich colours and art that you might not expect to see in a kitchen,” says Cromwell. “My client loves to cook so she can still be part of the conversation when they have guests over while a recessed bar means her husband also has something to do and doesn’t get underfoot. It’s win-win all round.” M


home & living

Baby, it’s cold outside

Winters in Hong Kong can be surprisingly chilly. Angela Tufvesson gives her top five tips to keep snug at home during the cooler months. Choose efficient heating For a more permanent solution, Rowena


If your home isn’t fitted with heating, a portable heater is a must-have when the temperature drops. “The most important thing when purchasing a space heater is to choose the right one depending on the area you would like to heat,” says designer and architect Katherine Wong, owner of KWT Design Limited (25/F One Capital Place, 18 Luard Road, Wan Chai; 6012 6013; As a general rule, if you’re heating a small, well-insulated room for a long period, an oil column heater is the most efficient choice. For bathrooms or personal use in larger draughty spaces, Wong says radiant heat works most efficiently. Fan heaters are suited to small areas for short periods.



Hong Kong is humid all year round, and in winter the heavy air can make the temperature feel even colder. Gonzales says built-in dehumidifiers can help to create a more comfortable indoor environment. Not to mention the built-in variety empties automatically. “A very Hong Kong-specific problem is that a lot of people dry clothes inside without enough de-humidification, which creates a lot more humidity in the home,” she says. “In the area


Warm up the floor

“A lot of luxury homes use a lot of stone on the floor, and obviously when you have flooring that is cold, it’ll make you feel cold,” says Gonzales. “So we always suggest to use wood on floors in the main areas.” If you’re stuck with stone floors or still find wood chilly in winter, Gonzales says rugs will


Gonzales, principal interior designer and founder of Liquid Interiors (904-905, 102 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; 3526 0901; says reverse cycle air-conditioners that come with a heat function are an ideal option for living areas. In the bathroom, she recommends fitting a warming light and thermal ventilator. “A thermal ventilator has more functions than just extracting air – it also heats and dehumidifies,” she says. To create an especially cosy ambience in your living room, the EcoSmart Fire (2838 8229; has the same effect as an open fireplace but doesn’t require a chimney, flue or gas or electricity connection. Plus, it uses eco-friendly ethanol as fuel.

that you’re going to be drying clothes indoors, add a built-in dehumidifier. Many people also have them fitted in walk-in wardrobes to prevent mould and preserve luxury bags and other expensive goods.” The ceiling-mounted DryMaster dries, warms and dehumidifies. Nearby stockists include Built-in Pro (G-1/F, 103-105 Ma Tau Wai Road, Hung Hom) and South Emperor Development Company (602 Reclamation Street, Mong Kok).

help keep your whole body warm. “A lot of people don’t think about adding small area rugs, like in the bedroom,” she says. “It’s a point of contact when you get out of bed and put your feet on the floor. Just by putting your feet on a cold tile or a cold material, you’re automatically going to feel colder, whereas if you put your feet down on a nice, soft rug you’ll feel much warmer.”

Rugs made from natural materials like wood, bamboo and silk are warm underfoot and hardwearing. For a variety of shapes and styles, check out Indigo Living (Shop B2, G/F, 63-69 Caine Road, Mid-levels), CarpetBuyer (26/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau) and Home Essentials (G/F, 33 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central).


Layer window coverings


Add textures

Don’t underestimate the power of bedding to keep you warm, says Gonzales. “If you have very good bedding you may not need as much heating,” she says. “It’s best to invest in a very good quality goose down comforter. What’s nice about goose down is that you can use it in the winter and you can also use it the rest of the year, and it’s very insulating and breathable.” Wong agrees, explaining that the effect can be extended to the sofa: “In the living room, a

Windows can be a major source of heat loss in winter. Replacing window panes with double glazing – which insulates by trapping air between two panes of glass – is the most effective solution. Keen to find out more? Try Chit Shing Windows & Doors (356 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai). If double glazing isn’t practical, Wong says full-length curtains with two layers will make a big difference to your indoor temperature. “The curtains act as an extra layer of insulation and trap cold air between your window and curtains,” she says. “Fit floor-to-ceiling curtains with good overlap on the walls at the sides help to insulate the concrete walls along the exterior of the

warm homes building. Try to fit your curtains as close to the window sill as possible and not leave a gap so that the cold air will get trapped and not leak into the room. Fitting curtains over doors can also greatly reduce cold air in your home. If you have existing curtains that you don’t want to throw out, you can thicken them up by adding a lining behind it.” To maximise natural light and heat, Wong recommends keeping your curtains open during the day to let in as much sunlight as possible. Once the sun sets, draw your curtains to retain the heat inside your home. To find out more, head to Fabricsmith Curtains (G/F, 182 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai) and Cetec (18/F Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central).

nice addition to have is a warm throw blanket for the sofa. Having a throw not only adds an accent colour to your room but it keeps you warm while you snuggle up to watch some television.” For cozy bedding and throw rugs, try Lane Crawford (IFC Mall, Podium 3, 8 Finance Street, Central), Inside (246 Landmark Prince’s Building, Central) and Habitat (15/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay). M


home & living

Welcome home

A few thoughtful touches around your home can go a long way. Here are some of our favourites.

Hello Cities soap  240 from Maven $

The Global Nomad large table coasters $840 from Folklore

Indigo Taube Cushion $399 from Indigo Living

Chadab cushion  423 from Indigo Living $

Sniff soy candles  395 from TREE $

MM GOI cushion cover  650 from Folklore $


a cushy life Jade of the Orient tissue box  580 from Folklore $

Linen embroidered cushion  595 from TREE $

Flower kitten cushion  449 from Bo Concept $

Portus Cale Gold & Blue creamic diffuser $650 from Maven

Rodarv cushion  249.9 from IKEA $



Healthy bites

Eating healthy doesn’t mean boring green salads everyday. Check out these gems near where you live.

HOME – Eat to Live Sprawling across two stories in the heart of Central, HOME – Eat to Live is in the business of feeding busy Hongkongers healthy and sustainable food in an eco-friendly environment. The restaurant is home to lots of raw, gluten-free and vegan food options, as well as a promise to produce zero food waste by using composting in the New Territories. There’s a takeaway counter on the ground floor where you can snag grab-and-go smoothies, salads and wraps. Upstairs, hang around for warm quinoa bowls and vegan burgers all made with local ingredients. It’s not all guilt-free, though: in the evenings, HOME – Eat to Live turns into a cocktail bar serving up alcoholic drinks with a healthy spin. Shop G01 & 101, Nexxus Building, 77 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2777 4777,



eat clean nood food Don’t be confused in thinking AWESOME that you have to be a member SALAD of PURE gym to enjoy nood BAR food. Ideally located next to the Mid-levels escalator, a stop at nood food is perfect for picking up a healthy meal on the way home or stocking up from their range of cold-pressed juices for a health boost on the go. A fully stocked salad bar is divided into protein, fibre or starch to help you build your own winning combination. Hot dishes like roasted chicken and steamed fish can be added for a heartier dinner option.



Following the success of its first branch in Wan Chai last year, healthy Cantonesestyle restaurant Kasa has opened its second branch in Central. Focussing on its vegetableforward concept, Kasa highlights vegetables and plant-based ingredients in its healthy, grab-and-go takeaway fare. Starting at $68 for a takeaway box of three mix-and-match items, choose from dishes including sweet potato noodles with shiitake mushrooms and onsen egg, eggplant lasagna, quinoa with minced chicken, and bitter melon with wasabi and soy sauce reduction. Homemade beverages and desserts complete the menu. A few tables and chairs inside the ‘cha chaan teng’ themed interior are ideal for a quick sitdown meal too. 61 Wellington Street, Central, 2868 6864.

Grassroots Pantry From its humble beginnings in Sai Ying Pun, Grassroots Pantry has emerged as a force to be reckoned with thanks to its sprawling (nearly) new digs on Hollywood Road. Chef Peggy Chan does vegetarian cuisine a real service, proving that healthy food can be incredibly tasty. Using organic and often locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant works with the season to ensure everything’s farm fresh. You’ll see lots of chia seeds, quinoa, acai berries and tofu on the menu, as every dish is packed with nutrients. If you have dietary restrictions, Grassroots Pantry is a safe place to dine as the team is happy to work around any intolerances and allergies.

2/F, Kinwick Centre, 32 Hollywood Road, Central

Pure Veggie House Tucked away in the heart of VEGG Mid-levels, just a short walk from I CHIN E Hong Kong Park, Pure Veggie ESE House is a no-frills Chinese restaurant that serves veggie-friendly dim sum and noodles. The nature-inspired interiors make ample use of greens and browns, and the menu echoes the sentiment. Pure Veggie House serves up some of the best vegetarian dim sum in the city as well as a fantastic selection of teas to go along with. If you’re visiting on a cold day, try the sweet corn congee - it’s comforting and packed full of flavour. 3/F, Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Mid-levels, 2525 0552,


Grassroots Pantry. 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2873 3353,


eating The Restaurant by the Kinnet For those in the know, The Kinnet is a wonderful hidden spot in the heart of Sheung Wan. Serving up healthy and wholesome food throughout the day, it even has a cute little terrace for a spot of alfresco dining. The restaurant has a fresh new look after renovations were completed before the new year. The menu has also been freshened up with tasty additions like zucchini noodle pad thai with prawns and grilled pomfret with kimchi, radish, mizuna and crispy shallots. The Kinnet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea and weekend brunch. 3/F, Hillier Street, Sheung Wan,, 3968 7623.



Maison Libanaise Fast becoming a firm favourite for those on their way home up the Mid-levels escalator, Maison Libanaise draws in the crowds thanks to its flavoursome Lebanese fare. Perfect for wholesome takeaway options on the ground floor, Le Comptoir serves up a variety of meat and vegetable options including grilled saffron chilli chicken, slow-cooked spiced beef brisket,

roasted lamb as well as herby almond falafel and grilled halloumi. Choose to have your selection served in a baked pita bread wrap, with a Syrian-style salad, zesty tabbouleh or in a hearty mezze platter loaded with fresh hummus, baba ganoush and pita. 10 Shelley Street, Central, 2111 2284. M

Juice it Catch Juicery Recently opening its latest store in The Landmark, Catch Juicery comes in at the cheaper end of the juice cleanse scale. A Catch Cleanse Level One starts from $532 for eight bottles. Genie Juicery With a brand new store in hip Sai Ying Pun, Genie Juicery continues its expansion across Hong Kong adding to stores in the IFC and on Hollywood Road. New this winter is the soup cleanse - five signature Genie soups which starts from $400 a day. Alternatively, stick to the juices where the Level One Beginner juice cleanse package starts from $600 a day for eight bottles of juice.


The Hong Kong Juice Co. Located in the heart of Mid-levels on Caine Road, The Hong Kong Juice Co sells bottled cold-pressed juices as well as juice cleanse packages available for delivery.

The three-day ‘Purity’ cleanse starts from $1,650 for six bottles of juice on the fruitier end of the scale.


dining news

A Spanish feast at Alzina.

Ole Alzina! Despite the number of Spanish restaurants increasing in the past few years, the country’s cuisine remains lacking in many areas of Hong Kong. Tsim Sha Tsui is not one of them thanks to newly-opened Spanish kitchen Alzina Spanish Asador. Helmed by Spanish-born chef Juan Carrilo, Alzina specialises in a grill menu, while offering quintessential local bites including tapas and cold-cuts. Expect plenty of Iberico pork to feature in dishes while the extensive paella menu is fun and colourful. G/F, 29-31 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2723 9833.

Classified comes to Sai Ying Pun Classified has opened a new branch in Sai Ying Pun marking the tenth opening for the Classified group. The new 56-seater outlet has a semi-outdoor seating area in keeping with the brand’s take on European-style al fresco dining. The menu serves up the same popular fare from Classified with an extensive selection of cheeses, brunch dishes and quality coffee. Open daily from 7.30am-12.00am, 345 Des Voeux Road, Sai Ying Pun.

Here be dragons Dim sum, noodles and classic Hong Kong dishes are served with a twist at Dragon Noodles Academy (DNA). With the interior reminiscent of a 1970s Kung Fu academy, an eye-catching fivemetre long dragon is a striking first sight upon entering the restaurant. Noodles are the star attraction of the menu thanks to an open kitchen where diners are able to watch the masters in action as the noodles are handmade from scratch. Fresh noodles with lobster prepared three ways; lobster claw, lobster tail meat wontons, or grilled lobster tail, is served in a master broth which is made fresh in-house each day and takes five hours to cook. The colourful and whimsical dishes on the menu are fun additions from the creative team in the kitchen - we love the ‘candy’ sausage rolls filled with preserved Chinese sausage and pastry twisted at each end to resemble a sweet.


New opening in SoHo 12,000 FRANCS is the latest restaurant to open in bustling SoHo. The menu, created by former Bibo and TRi chef Conor Beach, features European cuisine with a modern twist with an emphasis on both traditional and modern preservation methods. Its menu is divided into intriguing sections, including Picked + Potted, Smoke + Salted, Vacuum + Fire, and Sugar + Sweet. The name of the restaurant, 12,000 FRANCS, is inspired by the 1795 Imperial cash prize offered by Napoleon Bonaparte to anyone who could devise a method of preserving food for his conquering armies. Confectioner Nicolas François Appert claimed the Emperor’s prize, storing food in wine bottles that were heated to boiling point before being sealed. While the menu will change seasonally to reflect available local produce, signature dishes upon opening include the suckling pig shoulder and short rib pastrami with barley and rye. 43A Elgin Street, Central, 2529 3100.

‘Candy’ sausage rolls.

68 Des Voeux Road, Central,, 2561 6688. Ribeye pastrami at 12,000 FRANCS.

New Term starts THIS MONTH! Celebrating 18 Dramatic Years

Holiday Theatre & Creative Writing Programmes CHINESE NEW YEAR 1st to 3rd February EASTER 3 to 6th April and/or 10th to 13th April rd

Weekly Term-Time Drama Workshops With qualified, experienced leaders and unrivalled resources, we offer the best in drama and theatrical education for our members. Join us for weekly drama workshops for ages 3 to 18 that takes place in venues across Hong Kong and Kowloon including: Sheung Wan

Discovery Bay

Mid Levels


Kowloon Tong

Pok Fu Lam

Repulse Bay

The Peak

2547 9114


Top 10

Best After-School Activity


2014, 2015, 2016

Hong Kong

Summer Activities for Kids


After-School Activities | 37 for WWW.MID-LEVELS.CO Tots to Teens

dining news Luxurious happy hour at China Tang The sumptuous surroundings of China Tang make for an ideal post-work or pre-dinner happy hour. For $388, the David Tang-designed Chinese restaurant and bar in The Landmark invites guests to enjoy the ‘Duck & Dom’ happy hour, which includes a glass of Dom Perignon 2006 served with two Peking duck wraps. Fancy a glass of bubbly during the weekend? From 2.00pm-4.30pm guests can enjoy a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc Champagne paired with six premium dim sum dishes for $288. 4/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, 2522 2148.

Lunar new year banquet at Ho Lee Fook.

Ho Lee Fook that’s good

Chef’s choice

Begin the year of the rooster in auspicious style with the festive banquet menu at Ho Lee Fook, available January 27-30. Ideal for larger groups, the banquet includes dumplings, whole steamed snapper, Sichuan style chilli prawns with sea cucumber and okra, braised e-fu noodles with abalone and white garlic chives. The banquet centrepiece is the restaurant’s take on a ‘yee sang’ platter, made with a sweet and sour yuzu and plum dressing drizzled on top of Hamachi sashimi and a confetti of green daikon, beetroot, carrot, cucumber, green shallots, coriander, sesame seeds, peanuts and crispy wonton skins. The colourful dish is mixed by diners at the table while belting out blessings and well-wishes for the New Year. Make sure to order the banquet menu in advance. 1 Elgin Street, Central, 2810 0860.

Brainchild of Sami and Vanessa Verho, Chef’s Choice has opened their newest store on the border of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. The meat shop and delicatessen which specialises in prime cut steaks, fresh marinated and smoked meats as well as poultry and seafood also has a nice selection of freshly-prepared sandwiches. The fourth shop from Chef’s Choice is the first to be located on Hong Kong Island after openings in Discovery Bay, Tung Chung and Park Island. 88 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan,, 2602 6982.


Sumptuous interiors of China Tang in Landmark.


Photo by Wilfred Hösl

arts & culture

Bayerisches Staatsballett - La Bayadère

Hong Kong Arts Festival

Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the festival, talks to Callum Wiggins about what’s on the programme for audiences this year. It’s that time of the year again for another Hong Kong Arts Festival, will this year see any major changes? 2017 is an important year for many reasons. It is the 45th anniversary year for the festival, and the pilot year in a new government funding model. It is also the 20th anniversary of the reunification with China and another election year in Hong Kong. Bearing in mind these major events and milestones, and taking into account the inherently transitory nature of performance, the 45th HKAF takes being “in the moment” as a focal idea. You will see this in our theatre productions where characters are portrayed in a moment in time amidst major events around them. What are some of your anticipated highlights? This year sees two major trilogies: one traces a 20 year trajectory of a Hong Kong family


(A Floating Familiy – a HKAF commissioned production), another follows an American family through their election year (The Gabriels by New York’s Public Theatre); all the performances take place around the dinner table. A seventh dinner is set in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring (The Last Supper by Egypt’s Temple Independent Theatre). In a wider arch, the juxtaposition of the beautiful ballet La Bayadere and the spectacular new opera Dream of the Red Chamber, as opening and finale productions, invites reflection on the cultural identity of the festival and the city, as Asian, Chinese and international. In total, 16 new pieces of works will be presented this year, which is very exciting.

How have local artists been supported over the years? The festival presents close to 150 performances and over 250 events and special activities for students. These numbers provide an indication

Tisa Ho, Executive Director of Hong Kong Arts Festival of the festival’s scale, but do not tell the story of its diversity and depth. From the first HKAF in 1973, the festival’s programme contained an eclectic range to cater to different tastes, and manifesting the East meets West mindset of the day. We continue to embrace the diversity of this city, and at the same time, we also aim to make the festival a coherent whole, one that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

What are some of the major challenges in putting on a festival of this scale? One of the issues confronting HKAF at the moment is a new funding model in which our reliance on donations and sponsorships is greater than ever before. We therefore hope to count on the support from our audiences, sponsors and donors. Another challenge for HKAF is the need for more performing venues in Hong Kong, both in terms of scale and the quality of experience we can offer our audience, it would be great if

Photo by Joan Marcus Photo by Mark Douet

A scene from The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

Theatre production All My Son

Outdoor playground Super Pool is free for everyone to try

venue choices matched the diversity of our programmes. This year we are venturing outside to put on some free open air events and working in these spaces also posed special challenges.

What does the festival’s focal idea of being ‘in the moment’ mean to you? The overarching idea of “in the moment” speaks to an essential aspect of live performance: the perfect communion between performer and audience. This distillation of countless shared experiences is given extra poignancy as HKAF reaches the milestone of its 45th anniversary. For more information visit M


Photo by Belinda Bamford

health & wellness


get up, get out!

One for the diary

Kickstart your year with these events to get you off the sofa in 2017.

Tackle Hong Kong’s toughest obstacle course and become a Spartan

DATE TBC IRIS: Your Escape IRIS:Your Escape has become one of Hong Kong’s premier health and wellness festivals since its inaugural event in the summer of 2015. With two more events in the pipeline for 2017, the festival will move to West Kowloon Waterfront Park to accommodate even more yogis and health and wellness practitioners. Popular for its outdoor yoga workshops, the festival will also feature a number of meditational classes as well as tai chi, kickboxing and capoeira demonstrations. Vendors selling the latest in health foods, clothing and apparel, supplements and fitness gear will also be selling their wares at the festival’s marketplace. Live music and arts zone add to the chilled out vibes.

FEBRUARY 12 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon Entries may already be closed for Hong Kong’s biggest festival of running, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go out and cheer on the runners. Races start from as early as 5.45am while the marathon route begins in Tsim Sha Tsui before eventually finishing in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. Feeling inspired? Registration for the 2018 race should open around September, put it in the diary as entries are oversubscribed each year.

FEBRUARY 19 Run for Change 2017 Organised by the World Wide Fund (WWF) this

charity run features both individual and family relay style races. Held at the Science Park in Tai Po, entrants can sign up for either the 3.5km or 10km race while the family relay has space for up to three runners. For more information and to sign up, visit

FEBRUARY 26 Lamma Adventure Challenge Test yourself over Lamma’s difficult terrain in this 8km trail and obstacle race. Simply follow the pink ribbons to stay on course. The race begins at the YMCA Lamma Island Outdoor Centre. Entry fee is $250. For more details, visit www.

APRIL 22 Spartan Race 2017 Over 6000 people from 26 different countries took on the toughest challenge to hit Hong Kong in 2016. Taking place in the expansive surroundings of Kam Tin Country Club in the New Territories, competitors raced over a gruelling obstacle course which involved scaling walls, climbing ropes and hurling spears among other challenges before being awarded their Spartan medal. Spartan Race is open to both elite athletes and weekend warriors with Elite and Open Race categories. The 2017 edition will also see a Junior category added for the first time as children from as young as four years old will be able to tackle parts of the course. Spartan Races have become a worldwide

phenomenon with thousands of brave challengers pushing themselves to their limits over some of the toughest obstacle courses imaginable. Look out for the free training sessions organised in areas around Hong Kong in the weeks prior to race day to make sure that you are fully prepared and fighting fit. Tickets for the Open Race category start from $790. Sign up for the next race at M

Free workouts Hong Kong Harbour Runners A community of runners that connects people through running and exploring Hong Kong’s diverse landscape. Runners meet on Wednesdays at 7.45pm with details of the run and starting location posted on the group’s Facebook page. #JustShowUp A short and sharp 45-minute workout at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sai Ying Pun. Come rain or shine, the group meets for a series of rigorous exercises. There’s no fee and no commitment to join each week. Every Wednesday at 7am. For more information, visit justshowuphk


yoga yoda

“When I was little I wanted to be...” Victor Chau sits down with fellow yoga teachers to see where their childhood career dreams would have taken them.

“I grew up in a Chinese family in Hong Kong. Needless to say, my mother was not of the opinion, “Que sera sera”, when it came to my career. My family’s dreams for me were my own - to become a doctor, lawyer or scientist, something with letters after it and career security. Getting a university degree was my “samadhi” (“eternal bliss”, in Sanskrit) and becoming a yoga teacher was never something I considered. Along the way, I’ve been an English teacher, magazine writer and worked in luxury PR. When I told my mother that I decided to become a yoga teacher, her first question was, “How long can you do this for?” I told her the oldest living yoga teacher is 94 - and still teaching.”

“I wanted to be a lot of things, including an archaeologist, a dancer or singer, an actress and even a movie director. I ended up with a job in finance. But I felt it was limiting my personal growth and passion to travel, move and dream. I quit my job and answered my true calling: teaching yoga. I’ve since owned a yoga studio, become and Lululemon ambassador and gatekeeper to my family restaurant business. My mother and her friends come to my class every week. I would never settle for less than my passion.”

- Ariel Tang, Lululemon Ambassador

- Victor Chau, lead yoga teacher at Epic Yoga

“I wanted to be a doctor. But my passion for movement, creativity, culture and design took me in a different direction. I might not be a medical doctor today, but I believe teaching yoga can heal people physically and mentally.”

- May Nogoy, veteran yoga teacher, most notable for her Soultrains yoga series “When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor - a surgeon to be exact. My grandmother who was very close to me got very sick, and she had doctors and nurses coming to our home to make sure she was comfortable and getting better. They had this very beautiful energy about them. They would explain the body and the instruments to me and even let me play on the stethoscope to check on my grandmother’s breathing. I wanted to be a healer of some sort, hoping to help people, and bring them joy.”

- Will Tan, yoga teacher at Pure Yoga Asia Standard Tower

“I wanted to be a teacher - a school teacher, not a yoga teacher. I remember playing with my cousins and pretending that we were in school. I would always be the teacher and they would be the students. Haha!”

- Tryphena Chia, yoga teacher at Pure Yoga Asia Standard Tower 44 | WWW.MID-LEVELS.CO



Hong Kong Academy

Kate Davies finds out how the school in Sai Kung is keeping its students on their toes.

Who is God?” “How does the brain work?” “How do bones grow inside your body?” These are the questions on the minds of children, handwritten on post-it notes and stuck to a wall in one of Hong Kong Academy’s kindergarten classrooms. Questions that might make a parent like myself quietly panic, but not the teachers. They encourage kids of all ages to volunteer what they know about subjects, ask what they don’t and then help them find answers on their own. It’s part of a conceptual, inquiry-based learning programme that underlies the school’s entire educational ethos. The fundamentals of this mission are where the Hong Kong Academy’s story begins. Some 16 years ago, two parents, Teresa Richman and


Ben Frankel embarked on a journey to create a place of learning for children who acquired knowledge in ways different to the fixed teaching standards of the day. They set up an environment they felt was inclusive, individualfocused and community-minded. It is a model that the current Principal, Stephen Dare, helped grow for a student population that now counts student numbers in the hundreds. From the fledgling kindergarten on Stubbs Road, the school has moved twice on Hong Kong Island to accommodate the burgeoning student body and is now in its permanent, purpose-built campus in Sai Kung. Today Hong Kong Academy is a fully fledged independent, international nonprofit day school that offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years, Middle Years

and Diploma programmes. The class sizes are deliberately kept small so as to ensure a low student-to-teacher ratio with most having two or more teachers to make sure accelerated learners as well as students needing support are well looked after. At just three years old, the Sai Kung campus is big, open, modern and, thanks to a lot of glass, full of natural light. There is a clear nod to sustainability in the building’s design and construction materials, but more importantly the students are active in learning about and protecting the environment - from small beginnings such as the kindergarten garden, to more ambitious service learning projects - including activities such as beach clean-ups - that are built into the secondary school curriculum.

school visit

The principal of the HKA’s secondary school, Leanne Dunlap, has only been a part of the staff for a year and a half but has been impressed by what the school stands for. “Any child who comes here to visit will want to stay, I have no doubt about it… A part of that should be directly attributed to Dare and the school’s vision, I know that’s why I came here”. Dunlap says she didn’t interview for her position thinking she would actually take the job, rather that interviewing with HKA would give her good practice for other interviews. “But when I reached the second day I knew this was where I wanted to be,” she says. “I felt like I’d won the job lottery!” The school now boasts more than 630 students aged three to 18, all of whom are taught on the same campus. While the primary and secondary schools are largely kept separate day to day, there is overlap in the use of some spaces. The school also shares its facilities with the wider Sai Kung community who make use of the indoor sports hall and multi-purpose theatre. In return, students use the local council-run stadium, sports ground

and swimming pool nearby. When Dunlap joined HKA, the secondary school was running a seven-period day which included ten minutes passing time between classes and one long break. “It was a hectic day for the students” she

says. So, she suggested a personally created and coined ‘Rotating Block Schedule’. The framework is not unusual: four classes a day at ninety minutes each with three breaks between them, including an hour for lunch.



education The kicker is that the classes rotate, meaning if you start this Monday with Maths and finish Friday with Science, next week those classes will be at different times on the schedule, keeping everyone on their toes. It took an open-minded administration to give it a try, but what has turned out to be a scheduling victory is part of the reason Dunlap tells me the school is succeeding. The leadership body and the teachers see the need to be flexible, adapt and grow


according to what’s best for the students. “The idea that everyone has to be a life learner is intrinsic to what we teach so we have to model it”. And they do: every Wednesday is a half-day for students as teachers gather in the afternoon to continue their own personal development. Personally, I found the idea of a half-day every week a bit unusual, but I’m told the older students use this time to get ahead in their work. After seeing the types of projects that some of

the middle school students were developing I can understand why they’d be grateful for a little extra time. A brief tour of the library concludes with a look at one of the middle school student’s end of year projects: a working bicycle assembled from scratch. I’m also told another student intends to patent and sell his project: a working vacuum cleaner made in the shape of a glove. What these 16 year olds were achieving made me somewhat less proud of my latest effort in successfully assembling an IKEA stepladder on my own. For the students though it is about more than the product, it is a lesson in solo time management, motivation and exploration, and they have as much support from teaching staff as they need. The final two years of the IB program are by far the toughest as they determine what the student’s next stage in life will be. The approach to these years is broken into three ‘paths’ - HKA Diploma with full IB diploma; HKA Diploma with up to six IB certificates; and solely the HKA Diploma which is run along similar lines to a US high school diploma. “Any student can pass the diploma program with support,” says Dunlap. “We don’t screen anybody out. HKA caters for the gifted student and the student who needs support but wants to do the program”.

school visit

Support is expected at home and parents are encouraged to take part in the school’s operations. The HKA School Board itself is made up mostly of parents, who also encourage their counterparts to voice their opinions on school issues. Parents and guardians are also encouraged to volunteer in the school shop and are welcome to participate in activities, or to sit and have a coffee in the school cafe. I’m told that parents are viewed as “partners”, and Dunlap is frank about the fact that the families who join the school need to

value academia as much as the social and emotional well-being of the child. “If we do nothing else – given what’s going on in the world – we need to turn out good people. People who have a moral compass, people who stand up to demi-gods, people who speak for those who don’t have a voice. This generation of kids will change the world, I have no doubt”. In the hands of a leadership with her confidence, dedication and enthusiasm, they may do just that. M

School Report

Established: 2000 Class size: average of 22 Curriculum: Baccalaureate World School PYP, MYP, IBDP Fees 2016/2017: $131,000-$206,500 Non refundable capital levy: $25,000 (if no debenture) Address: 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung Tel: 2655 1111


big day out

Macau makeover

There’s more to Macau than casinos and croupiers. Carolynne Dear takes a walk on the cultural side of the peninsula.


obbled alleyways and pretty pastel-coloured terraces don’t exactly spring to mind when you contemplate booking a weekend

in Macau. But before the builders moved in after the Portuguese pulled out in 1998, the peninsula and surrounding islands was just that - an attractive, low-rise, quiet destination by the sea. However, the early 2000s saw the transformation of Macau into a glitzy casino capital as much of the land between peninsula Macau and Taipa and Coloane islands was reclaimed. Taipa and Coloane eventually ended up connected via the flashy Cotai Strip - the casino era had arrived with a bang. Today, having welcomed resort after resort, the Macau government is looking to its past and showing some love for the older


parts of the peninsula, namely Taipa Village. Taipa village was originally a fishing hamlet located in the south of Taipa Island which was home to local residents who made their living through fishing, firework production and handicrafts. Despite the recent years of dramatic urban change, it remains a living community that has retained its culture and heritage. “Our goal is to promote Taipa Village as an exciting and culturally rich nongaming destination,” says Pamela Chan, senior marketing manager for Taipa Village Destination (TVD). Billed as the “authentic Macao”, Chan explains that TVD is offering the area as an alternative to the city’s casino resorts. Following a decade of regeneration in the area, Chan and her team are now hoping to attract locals and tourists back to the area, offering heritage attractions, dining,

A Taipa streetscape.

niche retail offerings and a diverse arts and entertainments scene. On a blustery day, I catch up with Hilda Leong, from the TVD team, and after a quick tapas lunch at Casa de Tapas, one of the many Mediterranean-style restaurants that line the laneways, we set out to explore the village. We start at the Pak Tai temple, one of the biggest and most significant temples in Taipa. As the two main village industries used to centre around fishing and firework-making, it follows that the local community worshipped the god that was believed to protect against both floods and fire.


big day out

A happy couple ties the knot at Our Lady of Carmo Church.

Next door to the temple is the locally renowned “Si Toi” bicycle hire shop. The flat, cobbled streets, many of which are too narrow for traffic, make for an ideal cycleway for families. The square outside the temple is covered with bikes for hire come weekends, says Leong. We wander around the corner to the Museum of Taipa and Coloane History. The gracious mint-green and white building used to house the Municipal Council of the Islands. It now promotes and preserves the history and culture of Taipa and Coloane with a small but interesting range of exhibits spread across its two floors. Back on the cobbles outside, Leong leads me to the edge of Taipa Village where the elegant low-rise buildings rather dramatically collide with the golden monolith that is The Galaxy. The paved area marking the edge of Taipa was once a little beach overlooking the sea. While Leong reasonably points out that the gaming industry has brought both money and jobs to the peninsula, I can’t help thinking that the hotels loom like rather unfortunate blinged-up toads leering incongruously over a delicate, pastel-hued lily pond. But I guess that’s progress. We move on to the Taipa HousesMuseum, five pretty pastel houses that were once the residences of the Portuguese governor and other high-level civil servants and their families. They are situated on what was once the seafront, but is now a lilyfestooned lake that is all that is left of the original waterscape. Leong explains that the lilies were introduced for their ability to change


salt into freshwater, and when they bloom in the summer they make a dramatic backdrop for the little Museum houses on one side, and the shiny skyscraping hotels on the other (reclaimed) side. The houses are currently shrouded as they are repainted and smartened up, but inside each one offers a different display focusing on Macanese and Portuguese culture and history. In 1992 they were acclaimed as one of the top destinations in Macau for outstanding beauty and important architectural value. We walk back to the restaurant for a restorative coffee, passing by the old fireworks factory. It is immense, the old yellow boundary

wall running the full length of one of the main thoroughfares. After a fire on the peninsula in 1925, the industry was moved lock, stock and barrel to this location in Taipa Village, employing thousands of Taipa locals during the 1950s and 60s. However, by the 1970s the industry started to dwindle in the face of mass production in mainland China. The Village is bursting with art galleries, boutiques, enticing restaurants, museums and stunning colonial architecture. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and the bling of the Cotai Strip, Taipa Village is a real breath of fresh air. M



Banyan Tree Lang Co

Shreena Patel checks in for the weekend.


weekend break



The view from a Hillside Pool Villa.


hen it comes to short breaks from Hong Kong, Vietnam is a perennial favourite for good reason - delicious food and cheap massages just an hour and a half away. Nevertheless, the scooter-filled streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh don’t exactly spring to mind when thinking of relaxing holiday destinations. Enter Banyan Tree Lăng Cô. Any resort where you can choose your pillow in advance must have its priorities right. The place Located along the tranquil southcentral coast of Vietnam near Lăng Cô Bay, beneath the Truong Son mountain range, Banyan Tree Lăng Cô’s collection of private pool villas opened four years ago, the hotel group’s first foray into Vietnam. Together, with its sister (not as plush, more family oriented) hotel Angsana next door and a championship golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, they form Laguna Lăng Cô, a 280-hectare integrated resort, complete with a threekilometre stretch of pristine private beach. The concept is similar to Laguna Phuket, the group’s flagship integrated resort in southern Thailand. Banyan Tree Holdings is not the only luxury hotel group to move into central Vietnam over the last five years - in fact, the pace of change is dizzying. Travelling in the car from Danang airport to the resort, we pass numerous luxury residences, manicured golf courses and beachfront hotels under construction. However, Laguna Lăng Cô’s location is uniquely beautiful and secluded - this part of the country was traditionally a retreat favoured by Vietnamese royalty and it’s clear why. As we approach Laguna Lăng Cô, there is a definite change of pace from the city. The landscape is dominated by rice paddies, dotted with the conical bamboo hats of farmers and quietly grazing water buffalo. Fishermen’s nets


hang silently above the lakes. Just outside the resort we pass a few signs declaring that development of a new luxury resort - Mediterraneano - is underway, but Laguna Lăng Cô is vast and there is no resulting disturbance to its guests. The room 49 private detached villas, modelled on the traditional houses of the nearby imperial city of Hué, each with its own infinity pool. There are six different types of villa to choose from, with capacity ranging from one to three bedrooms. Ocean-view villas (on the hillside and by the beach) are more expensive. For something slightly cheaper, opt for a residence that faces the lagoon and the surrounding hills. It’s still gorgeous and you’re only a two-minute walk from the beach. The rooms are beautiful - huge comfy beds, a big stone bath and separate shower, a large covered and furnished terrace with a wooden sundeck and best of all - an inviting private pool.

Dining I love a good hotel breakfast and the Banyan Tree’s does not disappoint. Each morning, guests enjoy a vast spread of Western and Asian delights - make sure to try the Vietnamese pancakes (banh xeo). As for lunch and dinner, there are seven restaurants to choose from across Banyan Tree and Angsana, each with its own distinctive cuisine and style. The food is good but not the primary motivation for staying here (you can find cheaper yet delicious food across Vietnam). Frequent guests of Banyan Tree will be familiar with the hotel’s signature Thai-inspired restaurant, Saffron. Set in the hills (don’t worry, a buggy will take you up there and back), it’s definitely worth a visit. The best seats are on the outdoor terrace, where you can dine in the moonlight overlooking the waves crashing against the rocks below.



The hotel operates a daily shuttle to and from the royal city of Hue.

Activities A championship golf course is just one of the delights on offer at Laguna Lăng Cô. There are activities going on throughout the day, from Vietnamese coffee making, to morning yoga, lantern making and archery - you’ll get a schedule of activities when you arrive (some activities - such as boat tours through the local fishing village, cooking classes and bike tours along the Hai Van Pass - cost extra). During our stay, the fully equipped gym is almost always empty whereas the spa is pretty much fully booked (book your treatments in early!). The treatments are expensive but wonderful. Tip: those staying in Sanctuary villas can enjoy unlimited spa treatments. Guests are free to migrate between Banyan Tree and Angsana - both have large main pools but Angsana’s pool is particularly great for kids, with lazy rings, waterways and water jets. There are also lots of games (pétanque, frisbee, darts, pool) available - just ask a pool attendant for the equipment. I recommend taking advantage of the free bicycle rental to get around the resort (nothing is very far away but it’s great fun) - there is also


a small boat that operates between Banyan Tree and Angsana. Excursions Culture aficionados will be pleased to hear that Laguna Lăng Cô lies within a two-hour drive of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the imperial city of Hue, the ancient port town of Hoi An and the architectural ensemble that is My Son Sanctuary. Banyan Tree operates daily two-way shuttles to both Hoi An and Hue, free of charge. Private car rentals and tour guide packages are also available at an extra cost. If you go to Hue, it’s worth getting a guide (either from the hotel or once you’re there) as attractions are spaced far apart. Other guests Hotel Manager José Luis Barrera informs me that Hong Kong ranks first in terms of visitor numbers to the hotel this year (for the first time), followed by China and South Korea. During our stay, it appears to be mostly families and

weekend break schedule of free activities, games and facilities, a private beach, golf course, day trips to Hue and Hoi An - not to mention the quiet serenity of your villa, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for up to a week. Those who really take to the area may want to consider purchasing a hillside pool villa. These villas come in one-, two- and three-room configurations - depending on the view, prices start from USD$850,000 for a one-bedroom villa. I’m told there are 11 for sale at the moment, all three-bedroom, with prices ranging from US$1,280,000 to US$1,430,000. M

Need to know honeymooners, from across the world: America, Israel, Germany...The design of the hotel ensures that even when it’s busy, it still feels very peaceful. Every Tuesday and Friday at 6pm, there are complimentary drinks and nibbles at the main bar - a chance for guests and hotel management to mingle over a few glasses of wine and some (delicious) spring rolls and other Vietnamese treats. I recommend going - there’s no pressure to chat if you don’t want to and it’s a good spread, with live music and a few activities to keep any little ones entertained. I

advise against booking a big evening meal on the same night. General thoughts Throughout our stay, our villa host Tieu strikes the perfect balance between being attentive without being intrusive, helping us to make the most of our stay and sample what the hotel has to offer. I would recommend Banyan Tree Lăng Cô for families and couples looking for an easy, luxurious and relaxing holiday. True, you are largely confined to the resort but with a daily

Can you imagine spending 30 years like this?

Banyan Tree Lăng Cô Cu Du Village, Loc Vinh Commune, Phu Loc District, Thua Thien Hue Province Vietnam Tel: +84 54 3695 888 Email: 60km from Danang airport. A complimentary shuttle bus is available book 24 hours prior to arrival. Rates from USD399/night When to go: February to July Don’t forget to check the Vietnamese embassy website to see if you need a visa.

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Desexing demystified

Why should you have your pet desexed? Hayden Kwok, from the SPCA, explains.


We go for walkies with Nancy Trueman.

Q: Tell us about your dog My dog is called Pirate. He’s a tiny, oneeyed, fluffy poodle who thinks he is a big dog. Q: Favourite walk? Walk? He likes to be carried! We mostly go for short-distance walks on Lantau and in MidLevels. Q: What makes Pirate special? He’s very special because he’s a rescue dog with only one eye. He lost his left eye from an untreated eye infection by a breeder where he spent the first year of his life in a cage. When I adopted him, he had only been out of his cage for about four weeks so everything was new to him: grass, walking on a leash, the sights and sounds of the city. I adopted him from Villa Kunterbundt on Lantau, an organisation run by Okka Scherer whose mission is to rescue unwanted or neglected animals.


esexing prevents unwanted litters, thus helping to achieve a smaller, healthier population under human care. In addition to birth control, desexing in animals has many advantages: • Sexual instincts are removed: this allows an animal to relax into a household without the urge to find a mate. Mate-seeking behavior often gets animals into trouble - from traffic accidents to fights with rivals. In addition, an unmet sexual need is often detrimental to their quality of life. • Desexed pets are often easier to handle in a home environment: certain unwanted behaviours are reduced or absent, such as aggression in dogs or urine spraying by cats. • Preventing phantom pregnancies: sometimes, female dogs who have not been desexed can have false pregnancies when their body “thinks” they are pregnant – this can result in odd behaviour and can be stressful for the dog. • Health benefits: neutering can reduce the risk of prostate, testicular, uterine and mammary gland diseases and cancers in cats and dogs. Mythbusting common misconceptions Myth: The surgery is risky and painful Bust: The procedure is routine and very familiar to veterinary surgeons. Complications are very uncommon and rarely life-threatening. Some discomfort is naturally felt during the first few


Desexing means a life free of this

days after the surgery but can be controlled with prescribed painkillers. Myth : My pet will become overweight Bust: The removal of sex hormones does lower the metabolic rate and increase the risk of weight gain, but careful regulation of diet and exercise can help to avoid this. Myth : My pet will be boring to me Bust: desexed pets can be just as much fun! An added bonus is the removal of undesirable behaviours such as attempting to mate with legs, arms or inanimate objects, aggression and inappropriate urination.

Q: Best place for doggie supplies? Whiskers N Paws in Horizon Plaza in Ap Lei Chau -- they have great quality products from doggie bowls to brushes with an excellent selection of dog food. Q: To you Pirate is... ...a dog who has changed my life. I was always scared of dogs, but from the moment I met Pirate, I fell in love with him. He was scrawny and mangy but he had a gentle personality. Now, I am a complete dog lover, large or small. I am an advocate for ‘adopt don’t shop’ and I love to be involved in community events for the betterment of animals. Pirate is a family member with fur.

FAQs How much will neutering cost? The cost varies on the type of animal, the size and the gender. Compared with the cost of caring for numerous offspring or treating possible diseases, the cost of desexing is minimal. When is it a good time to neuter my pet? Regardless of gender, a cat or dog can reproduce from 5 to 6 months old, so the sooner the better. Call 2802 0501 and make an appointment today to desex your furry friend at one of the SPCA’s veterinary clinics.

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money secrets & me

Rendy Ng The chief gemologist of Bee’s Diamonds shares her clear-cut advice.

Tell us about your company Bee’s Diamonds is an award-winning diamond supplier with three-generations of experience. Our services range from the supply of loose diamonds to jewellery retailers, diamond investment advisory and designing bespoke designs. I am the chief gemologist for Bee’s Diamonds.

What credit cards do you use? I use an AMEX to collect air miles, a DBS Black Card for dining and a BOC Visa Infinite for travel benefits. For all household spendings I use a subsidiary Hong Kong Medical Association VISA credit card given to me by my husband.

Are you a spender or a saver? It depends. I am a saver in the sense that I buy what I need but not always on what I want. For myself, I only spend on quality items that provide daily comfort, such as a good pair of Hogan or Ferragamo shoes and a sturdy Louis Vuitton bag.

Start early. Teach them not just about money, but also about the perpetual value of things.

What steps are you taking to ensure a financially comfortable retirement? Commodity investments; Chinese ceramics and antiquities, diamonds and foreign currency. I also invest in some other businesses, while of course making sure that I invest in my own health.

Do you play Mark 6? What was your worst investment? Stocks. I have never been that skilled when it comes to the stock market. In 2008, I panicked and sold some stocks at a rock bottom price. I learned my lesson and it was a costly one.

How much is in your wallet? About $1,500 in cash.


Do you have any advice on teaching children about money?

No, why bet just for the slightest chance of winning?

What is the most extravagant thing you have ever bought? A Qing Dynasty Yongzheng porcelain bowl - it was an impulsive buy in London with my father, but it remains as one of our favourites and we share wonderful memories of choosing and buying the piece together.

What was your best investment? My education - I recently completed an Executive Master of Business Administration with CUHK and it has been an eye-opening two years.



Mid-levels Jan 2017  
Mid-levels Jan 2017