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May 2017

Park life


A day out in Sham Chung

50 years of Hong Kong with... Beth Narain

Boosting the value of Hong Kong’s country parks

We love mums

Gorgeous gifts for Mother’s Day



Hong Kong adventures


The really useful magazine May 2017



4 Snapped! Southside’s social life. HONG KONG ADVENTURES 6 Stella So heads to... Kwun Tong. THE PLANNER 8 Happening in May What’s on. FAMILY 16 The mother lode Gift ideas for Mother’s Day. NEWS 18 What’s going on? In your backyard. GIVEAWAYS 20 Free stuff Fab things to win.

22 Alan Chan Yiu Hung The film director on shooting in Stanley Prison. LOCAL 24 Park life A new study on ways to boost the value of our country parks. EATING 26 Oishii Our favourite sushi restaurants. Plus Nibbles. COVER STORY 32 Sssnake ssspotting We speak to government snake catcher William Sargent. EDUCATION 42 The American School Hong Kong Kate Davies takes a tour.

BIG DAY OUT 46 Rory Mackay heads to... Sham Chung. TRAVEL 48 The Anam A new luxury resort in Cam Ranh, Vietnam. INTERVIEW 58 Beth Narain The dancer, DJ and personal trainer on 50 years in Hong Kong.

ZIM CITY 66 Paul Zimmerman on... Recycling incentives and waste disposal. SOUTHSIDE SECRETS 72 Tic Tac Toe The third in a series on the Southern District Literary Trail.

PETS 62 Ask Dr. Pauline “Is my dog depressed?” HOROSCOPE 64 You will meet a tall, dark stranger... Adam White predicts your future.


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...i s a fre el an ce illu strat g ba sed or fro m St ockh ol m, e ... is a Hon g K on th r Fo Swed en, wh o creat es ar ologist. et rp he r eu at t with m et icu lou s m a n d avid a , ca ug ht deta il. His wo rk m ai nly pt ke s ha m ia ill focu se s on th e us e la st 25 yea rs, W a ke s. A re sid ent of Micron in k pe ns an d dig sn ild w ed ph ra ita l pa int in g. a n d ph otog nt ed A pa rt fro m illu strat in g, to re m ove u nwa s lp he his he ot u, he r pa ss ion s a nt of L a in clu de tra ve lin g th e wo l co m m u nity ca lo e th r fo rld s or an d sin gi ng r fo r sn a ke visit ci a l sn a ke catche e ka ra ok e. A nd rea s’ late st wo rk ca n be fi of ly on e th is foun d a nd t g uid on th e co ve r of th is m onth’s iss ue. e. F in d his pu ll ou th e L a nt a u polic 36. www. an drea svo nbud de sn a ke s on pa g e nb to Hon g K on g’s

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people Snaps from Southside


have your say “What do you think of the proposal for a new bridge across Tai Tam Reservoir?”

I used to bike a lot when was in in England and Canada, but it’s hard to find a place to do it here, so I think including bike paths in new road plans is a good idea.

- Stephanie

That road has always been really busy, so I think it sounds like a great idea.

- Natalie

I don’t bike in Hong Kong anymore - it isn’t safe. Someone died last week on their bike around Shek O. I am pro marginal widening of the Tai Tam Reservoir road and I like the sound of the bridge, but I don’t think the new model is tasteful. Also, having a bike path on the new bridge and nowhere else doesn’t make much sense.

- Max I think it would be best to ask those who live right around it, but it seems like a good thing.

- Anonymous With the congestion and pollution, anything to encourage cycling is great. Would the construction have any negative effects? It took five years to finish the new cycling paths in London - a pain during construction, but great now.

- Jaime We go on walks up at the reservoir from time to time, it’s nice for the kids since it’s sort of down hill. I would love to have the option for more biking and cycling so if they are working on making space for that, that would be great.


HK adventures


Kwun Tong



MAY 30

Sun Life Stanley International Dragon Boat Championship

Don’t miss one of the most competitive and exciting dragon boat races this year! 8am-5pm, Stanley Main Beach. (Warm-up races on May 6),

MAY 1 Labour Day Public holiday.

MAY 3 Buddha Birthday Celebrations Public holiday.

UNTIL MAY 4 Cheung Chau Bun Festival A colourful and unique Hong Kong festival

featuring bun towers, performances and lion dances. Don’t miss the Bun Scrambling Contest at midnight on the last day of the festival. Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau, For the ferry timetable, visit

MAY 4-7 Geronimo Stilton, Live in the Kingdom of Fantasy Mouse adventurer Geronimo Stilton embarks on his biggest adventure yet as he attempts to rescue the Queen of the Fairies. Tickets start at $295 from or call 3128 8288. Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai

MAY 5-7 & 12-14 Cookieboy pop-up A pop-up stall specializing in cookies - what could be better? Flavours range from perennial favourites like chocolate chunk and peanut butter to the more outlandish hojicha (charcoal


roasted Japanese green tea and crispy rice). Grab a six-pack for $100. You can also order online at 11am-8pm, Level 3, Stanley Plaza (next to Chung’s Cuisine)

MAY 6 Fit Flow Yoga at Maggie & Rose Try out a complimentary yoga class with Kelsea Bangora. 9:30-10:30am, adults only, members and non-members welcome. Activities will be set up for children while yoga is in session so you can take little ones with you. Thereafter, classes take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9am ($300 per class). To reserve your space, call 2638 7191 or email 301 the pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay.

MAY 6 Mother’s Day celebration at Indigo Living Booth games, a big screen cinema, seminars, goodie bags (for the first 30 kids), a magician,

happening in May face painting, storytime and 20% off at Indigo Living Kids. Free entry. 1-6pm, Indigo Living Kids, Ocean View Court, The Arcade, Cyberport.

MAY 6 Malvern Meet & Pre-school Meet Malvern College Hong Kong - set to open in September 2018 - regularly holds small group sessions for prospective parents. Teachers and senior management will be there to answer questions. The next one is from 9:30-11am (preschool) 11:30am-1pm (primary and secondary), Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel, Bauhinia Room, 4/F, 3 Canton Road, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. Sign up at

MAY 6 Blood wine or honey Celebrate the release of the first EP from Blood Wine or Honey, following its debut at Sónar Hong Kong. The evening will kick off with a DJ set from Preservation and continue late into the night with DJ Fei Pao! Blood Wine or Honey has honed its “mantric afro-bitten electro-psychedelia” in the industrial warehouses of Hong Kong, surrounded by the smell of dried fish, the throb of heavy machinery, and the humidity of the South China Sea. Tickets are $140 from Studio 9, 9/F, Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang.

MAY 6-14 Serve-a-thon Hong Kong In its inaugural year, this event aims to bring together NGOs, corporates, government, media and the public to highlight the importance of community engagement in helping address social issues. Over nine days, the city will unite through hundreds of volunteer activities taking place across Hong Kong. Whether you are an individual, family, school or corporation, find out how you can join in at

MAY 9 How to transform your life on outer, inner and secret levels A book signing, Tibetan Buddhist Ceremony and teaching with Tibetan Buddhist Master Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche - hosted by a new gallery in Wong Chuk Hang. 6:30pm, SIN SIN Atelier, 4A, Kin Teck Industrial Building, 26 Wong Chuk Hang Road. RSVP 2858 5072 or email

Strike a pose at IRIS: Your Escape.

and Gooseberry Beauty (organic skin care). 10am - 6pm, Vista Ballroom, The American Club, 28 Tai Tam Road. For information, contact

MAY 13 Family Market Food, fun, family and shopping - plus a kids corner. Note, today is your last chance to get a present before Mother’s Day. Vendors include Merci852, Les Tropeziennes, Mirth, Ditto Ditto and Rendall Wines. 10am-5:30pm, 9/F, 63 Wong Chuk Hang Road. For the program and full list of vendors, visit the Facebook page.

Sky High Yoga

MAY 13 & 14 IRIS: YOUR ESCAPE Hong Kong’s largest health and wellness festival is back with fitness, music, yoga, meditation, performances, silent discos, family activities, shopping and more. Over 60 classes take place over two days. Two-day festival entry is $150 for adults (12+), $75 for children (3-11). Prices are $200 and $100 on the door, respectively. Singleday entry also available. For the full lineup details and class descriptions visit West Kowloon Nursery Park

MA 10 & 2Y 4

Take a lunch break from city life and soak up the rays on CÉ LA VI’s rooftop with an energizing yoga practice and a 360-degree view of Hong Kong. This month’s yogis are Mindy & Nadine from Yoga for Life ( There will be one 60-minute session available on each date, at 12:45pm. Classes are $100 (bring your own mat). If you’re feeling peckish, add on a Poke Lunch Trio (Salmon, Tuna and Seasonal Whitefish), served with rice for an extra $188 - opt to take away, redeem within two weeks or dine in after class. To book, call 3700 2300. 25/F California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street.

MAY 10 Mother’s Day & Summer Shopping Event Shop for mum, the summer holidays, kids, fashion and home. New vendors include She Collective (designer yoga wear and accessories), Surlaplage (sun suits and swimwear for kids), Cosar (fine sterling silver jewelry), Rika Shioya (Japanese inspired clothing and accessories)


planner MAY 13 & 14 Shi Fu Miz

MAY 14 Mother’s Day

This two-day festival includes a varied program of global music, electronic music, live performances, DJ sets and art activities and workshops - all based on the idea of well-being and ecology. Tickets from $350 Free for kids under 12, no tickets at the door. Public camping is free (bring your own tent). You can also book a tent at extra cost. Life Base, Pui O - for details on the lineup, how to get there and to book tickets, visit

See page 16 for gift ideas.

MAY 13 & 14 International Museum Day Hong Kong 2017 For two days only, most of the city’s public museums, including Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Maritime Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum, are open to the public, completely free of charge. With a whole host of educational programmes and activities for visitors to take part in, it’s a great family day out. Find out more at

UNTIL MAY 14 Ocean Park Animal Discovery Fest 2017 Ocean Park has launched a series of new animal and nature educational experiences for guests to connect with nature and learn fun facts about these animal ambassadors. See the animals up close and hear interesting stories from the keepers in the new Animal Meet & Greet series. Interactive experiences include “Meet the Sea Lion” and “Get Closer to the Animal”

MAY 17 Surviving Summer: pregnant and new mumas Summer in Hong Kong can test even the most patient and composed of women. Throw in pregnancy, a new baby, a body recovering from birth, breastfeeding, multiples, swollen legs or one of the many other challenges...and summer just became real! Join Sofie Jacobs, Head Midwife at Urban Hatch, for practical advice for surviving a tropical summer while under the influence of a pregnant or postpartum body. Learn exercises to help avoid swelling, foods to eat and avoid, how to keep babies cool outside and more. 9:3010:30am, at Bumps to Babes, 21/F Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing St, Ap Lei Chau. To RSVP, call 2552 5000 or email

MAY 26 VSA Scholarship Introductory Session & PYP Exhibition Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA) invites prospective parents to its Scholarship Introductory Session (for Y6-11) at its Sham Wan Campus to learn about VSA’s Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme curricula and scholarship opportunities. Parents may also visit the annual Primary Years Programme (PYP) exhibition held in the same morning to witness how VSA’s through-train IB programme prepares PYP students for the transition into MYP. Register for free online at 8.50–10.30am, Victoria Shanghai Academy, 19 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen. For enquiries, contact the Admissions Office at or call 3402 1046.

Affordable Art Fair

MA 19-2Y1

Shop high-quality yet affordable art. Tickets $160 for adults, $90 for full-time students and senior citizens. Children under 16 may enter for free. Purchase online at www.hkticketing. com before May 17 for 25 per cent off. Hall 3DE, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai,

Kong Football Club. Featuring youth and academy teams from top clubs in Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Europe including Leicester City, West Ham United and Aston Villa. Tickets $160-300 from hkscocer7s. Free entry for HKFC members via the main entrance and children under 16 all weekend. Free entry for all on Friday May 26. Hong Kong Football Club, 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley

MAY 26-28 China New Economy Fund/ Stingrays Invitational Swim Meet Hosted by the Hong Kong Island Stingrays Swim Club and the highlight of their swim season. Watch over 400 high school swimmers from twelve Clubs from Hong Kong and overseas battle it out in this competitive swim meet. May 26 (afternoon, 27 (all day) and 28 (morning). Hong Kong International School High School Swimming Pool, One Red Hill Road, Tai Tam. For enquiries, contact

MAY 26-28 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens The 18th edition of the tournament takes place, as usual, at the Hong


MAY 27 Round the World: Russell Howard live in Hong Kong UK comedian Russell Howard takes the stage at Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academic Community Hall. Best known as the writer and star of Russell Howard’s Good News, he is currently on a tour of 30 cities across the globe. Tickets from $488 at or call 3128 8288 to speak to an agent.


planner MAY 30 High School Hits In celebration of Tuen Ng Festival, Stanley Plaza hosts “High School Hits” - a music event complete with campus-themed photo booths, dance and singing performances and on-stage games. Noon to 6pm.

UNTIL JUN 13 Kids’ Yoga Back by popular demand at Flex Studio. Suitable for ages 6 and up. Tuesdays from 4:15-5:15pm at the Island South Studio, Shops 308-310, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 2813 2212,

MAY 27 Rosé Revolution 2017 Viva la Rosé Revolution! Kick off summer by tasting a curated selection of over 20 rosé pours. This year’s edition takes place at The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road. 2-7pm (starts at 1pm for VIP ticket holders). Tickets start at $350 ($250 for early bird). Guests are encouraged to dress in pink. Book online at


MAY 29 Pitbull – Climate Change Tour Live in Hong Kong Music sensation Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, presents his latest album, Global Warming: Meltdown featuring hit singles such as “Feel This Moment” with Christina Aguilera, “Don’t Stop The Party” and “Back In Time” from the action-comedy “Men in Black 3”.. Tickets from $688 at AsiaWorldExpo, Cheong Wing Road, Chek Lap Kok

UNTIL JUN 30 Le French May Arts Festival The annual festival celebrating all things French returns once again to Hong Kong with over 150 programmes which run until the end of June, covering art, dance, cinema, music, gastronomy and more. Highlights include an exhibition on the Musée du Louvre, a performance by dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, European ballets and Hong Kong Ballet and a live jazz series. Every year Le French GourMay honors a different wine and gastronomy region of France. This year, it celebrates Champagne. For more information, visit



BOOK NOW JUN 3 Sting - 57th & 9th Tour The music legend tours his latest album, 57th & 9th. See him perform live at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with a three-piece band. Tickets from $588 at

JUN 9-11 My Fair Lady Join Eliza Doolittle on a journey of

self-discovery, as she practices her ‘p’s and ‘q’s, guided by Professor Henry Higgins. Tickets from $250 at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Drama Theatre, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai.

For details and registration, visit

JUN 11 Splash 2017 Fun open water swim races for kids aged 7-14 years old at VRC Deepwater Bay, 8am-midday. Lots of categories plus BBQ breakfast.

JUN 27 Britney Spears Live in Hong Kong That’s right, Britney’s in town for one night only. The ‘90s pop icon will be performing her hit “Piece of Me” show in Hong Kong as part of an international tour, before she ends her four-year Las Vegas residency in December. Tickets from $588 at Arena, AsiaWorld-Expo, Cheong Wing Road, Chek Lap Kok

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




Canopy – Turquoise Fabric Wall Art $780/per metre (can be ordered to any size) from Tequila Kola 1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2877 3295

The mother lode

Mini teapot tea filter $95 from G.O.D Shop 105, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, 22-23 Carmel Road, Stanley, 2673 0071

Blue Bouquet Scarf $900 from Louella Odie,

Gorgeous gifts for Mother’s Day.

“My Mummy” by Roger Hargreaves $96 from Bookazine Shop G107 C&D, The Repulse Bay Arcade, 109 Repulse Bay Road

Vintage Rattan Suitcases From $1,590 from Bowerbird 8/F Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2552 2727

Svenska Hem Scented Candle $220 from kikki-K Shop 220, 2/F Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2116 0870 Pure Lano Natural Sea Salt Exfoliator $395 from the Pure Lano range available at

Cristina Re Rose Quartz teacup  419 from Indigo Living $ 6/F Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2555 0540 G111-112, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, 592 8721 Shop 316-317, Level 3, The Arcade, 100 Cyberport Road, 2989 6557


mum’s the word Mother’s Day Gift Box  880-1,200 from Ms B’s Cakery $ 39 Gough Street, Central, 2815 8303

Bloom of Youth Infusion Mask $360 for a pack of three, from the Edible Beauty Australia range available at and

Hong Kong Typographical Map $750 from Colonial Hong Kong

Cosmetic bag $280 each from Mirth, M/F, B T Centre, 23 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 2553 9811

Ginger Flower iPhone 7 Case $368 ($398 for iPhone 7 Plus) from Shanghai Tang Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell street, Central, 2525 7333

Major Mitchell round platter $240 from Thorn & Burrow Mother’s Day cards  25-40 from The Lion Rock Press $ The Amber (36 scarlet roses) $1,280 ($2,180 for 64 roses) from ANDRSN




NEW SPORTS MASSAGE AT ONE ISLAND SOUTH Southside’s The Round Clinic welcomes two new French practitioners to its team this month: Magali Salgado is a physiotherapist specializing in sports massage and post-traumatic rehabilitation, while neuro-energetic kinesiologist Aurélie Martin specializes in kinesiology (a combination of energetic healing techniques). To find out more, call 2648 2612. The Round Clinic, 12/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang,

NEW HOSPITAL OPENS IN WONG CHUK HANG Spring Workshop, one of the pioneers of Wong Chuk Hang’s development into an arts hub, will be closing its doors at the end of this year. Founded in 2012 by Mimi Brown, the nonprofit artspace regularly welcomes a mix of artists, filmmakers, curators, musicians, writers - and on occasion, farmers - and offers a place where they can meet, create and collaborate. “I created Spring Workshop as a love letter to kindred spirits and audiences – like me – who want to engage with the cultural ideas they present.,” says Brown. “I hope the Spring experiment has provided a place to learn, create, reflect, and to find both support and challenge.” During the past five years, Spring Workshop has provided artist and curatorial residencies and hosted a range of exhibitions, music, films and talks open to the public. In 2016, the artspace received the Prudential Eye Award for Best Asian Contemporary Art Organisation, but it was never

meant to last. “Like the season, Spring was not made to last forever,” explains Brown. “We should remember the dramatic exponential idea behind Moore’s Law. There is an acceleration in the world’s changes, and with that, our cultural models need time and freedom to change.” As for Spring’s final year, there seems to be a musical theme. “We have a big surprise project in the late Fall, and the composer Michael Friedman and the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble coming to stay with us,” says Brown. In 2018, Brown will be looking for ways that Spring Workshop can keep experimenting. “Our space and terrace at Spring will still be here…. and in continuation of our support for local organizations, we hope to have an arts non-profit as a guest for a few years,” says Brown. “So you can still come visit for a culture fix!” 3/F, Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Aberdeen,

NEW APP LAUNCHES TO HELP PARENTS BOOK ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS KidHop, an online activity-booking app for parents, launched last month. Similar in concept to the monthly fitness passes that many adults in Hong Kong now use (think Guavapass, ClassCruiser, KFit), KidHop provides access to multiple activities for young children for a monthly fee. Like many parents, co-founder Zoe Fung wanted to expose her 3-year-old son to different experiences so that he could have fun and discover his passions. The problem was that most activities required long-term commitments with fixed schedules.


Enter KidHop, which partners with over 50 premium activity providers throughout Hong Kong Island to provide parents with no-commitment single-class activities each week. With a KidHop membership, parents can choose classes for their kids - from dance to art, sports and languages - and get access to admissions seminars, carnivals and other community events. Choose from three plans, starting at $568 per month. For more information, visit

Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital (GHK) has opened in Wong Chuk Hang. The 500-bed multispecialty private tertiary hospital is a joint venture between Parkway Pantai and NWS Holdings Limited, with Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) as its exclusive clinical partner. The range of clinical services spans over 35 specialties and subspecialties. In addition to inpatient services, specialist outpatient services include General Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Paediatrics and Chinese Medicine. Other service centres include a Cardiovascular Laboratory, Chemotherapy Centre and Dialysis Centre. GHK also provides Accident and Emergency services. GHK is the first private hospital in Hong Kong to provide at least 51 per cent of inpatient bed days at packaged rates. The hospital took just three years to construct. 70 per cent of the bed days are to be set aside for Hong Kong residents. “We also take pride in being a private teaching hospital to train doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals,” said Mr Tsang Yam Pui, Chief Executive Officer of NWS Holdings Limited. 1 Nam Fung Path, Wong Chuk Hang,

in your backyard


Chef Gauci and members of the team at Cococabana.

Looking for part-time work over the holidays? Renowned Hong Kong chef Jean-Paul Gauci is looking for students to join his team this summer. Work is available at his three beachside restaurants: Cococabana (Shek O) and Lido Cucina Italiana and Coconuts Thai (Deep Water Bay). There will also be opportunities to work in outside catering for

Le French Gourmay and Harbour Front events. Staff will get the chance to learn the workings of a professional POS (point of sale) system and get involved in various areas of the restaurant business, from marketing to client handling, menu design and more. If you’re interested, email or whatsapp 9488 1648.

NEW CRAFT STUDIO IN WONG CHUK HANG A new ceramics studio has opened in Wong Chung Hang. “LUMP Studio is all about making ceramics more accessible,” says founder Liz Lau. “Hong Kong has a very active ceramics maker community, but many people struggle in terms of space and equipment. LUMP is a 2,400 sq.ft. fully-equipped pottery studio for ceramics makers of all levels...It’s a bit like a co-working space, but for ceramists!” Monthly membership gives makers up to 15 hours of studio time a week for $2,000 a month. For those that need more flexibility, Sessions Membership allows you to buy 30-minute sessions in the studio for $50. The four-class beginner course costs $1,250. A 10 per cent discount applies as part of the opening promotion. Suitable for ages 16 and up. 11A, Gee Luen Hing Industrial Building, 2 Yip Fat Street (exit A1 Wong Chuk Hang MTR). Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am - 9pm. Closed Mondays and public holidays. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-9pm. Find out more at


win at


enter to win!

My Fair Lady

Cafe Siam

Enjoy witty dialogue, much loved songs and breathtaking costumes at Face Productions’ My Fair Lady from June 9 to 11. In this musical, Eliza Doolittle goes on a journey of self discovery as she attempts to learn how to speak “proper” English with the assistance of a phonetics professor. We have one set of four tickets valued at $1,580 to give away.

Feast on a Thai buffet at Cafe Siam’s all-youcan-eat brunch. Twenty dishes from all over Thailand including appetizers, salads, meats, noodles and rice-based dishes make up the buffet — make sure to try the traditional Koh Moo Yang (char-grilled marinated pork), and the Peek Gai Tod (deep-fried single bone chicken wing). We’re giving away two brunches (four lucky diners per brunch) at their Central and Kennedy Town outlets, worth $1,072 each.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea Based on the picture book by Judith Kerr, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, is a heartwarming tale about a tea-guzzling tiger. In this upcoming musical rendition by ABA Productions, expect oodles of magic, sing-along songs and clumsy chaos! We have four tickets for the matinee show on June 4, worth $435 each.

Wonderboom Bring your own party to the beach, junk boat or park with the UE Wonderboom. Part of the Ultimate Ears line of speakers, the UE Wonderboom is perfect for Hong Kong summers. It’s waterproof, floats in water, and it can play music for up to 10 hours! We’re giving away two speakers worth $899 each.

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to get all our giveaways delivered straight to your inbox: 20 | WWW.SOUTHSIDE.HK


five minutes with


Tom Hilditch


Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel Contributing Editor Carolynne Dear Acting Editor Eric Ho


Design Manager Cindy Suen Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Thanks to

Adam White Andreas von Buddenbrock Graham Turner Kate Davies Paul Zimmerman Dr. Pauline Taylor Robyn Or Rory Mackay Stella So Viola Gaskell William Sargent

Published by

ALAN CHAN YIU HUNG Retired RTHK TV senior executive producer Alan Chan Yiu Hang talks to Robyn Or about shooting “The Road Back” at Stanley Prison.

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

I was born in Guangzhou. Our family moved to Macau in 1962 before the Chinese Revolution took place.

Illustration by Andreas von Buddenbrock

Both relocations during my childhood were tied to the misfortunes of my father. We lived in Guangzhou at first, where he worked in a small machine business. We moved to Macau after he broke his arm at work we stayed there for nine years. I remember one day, eating breakfast at home with my father before walking to school. When I arrived back for lunch, he was being carried into an ambulance. He died of lung disease without any signs.

To make a living, my mother brought us to Hong Kong in 1971 - my elder sister came with her first and the rest of us the year after. I learnt to take care of


myself and my younger brother both physically and emotionally.

Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Lu Xun is my favourite novelist.

We lived in a subdivided flat in an old building in Hung Hom. Five of us shared a bunk bed. My mother was commissioned by a factory to sew fabric parts together to make cardigans. During peak season, we all helped her out, it was like a home factory. Eating at Jade Garden restaurant in Star House was a treat.

I had my first encounter with drama while studying Social Sciences at Hong Kong Baptist College in the late ‘70s. My cousin was a member of the drama club so I joined too. I acted, wrote and directed. Eventually I became chairperson of the club. It’s also where I met my wife. Veteran actor Chung King Fai guided me into the world of drama. Every Saturday, I attended his lectures on public speaking, elementary acting and directing. He always encouraged us to take part in dramas and competitions to understand our strengths and weaknesses. I am interested in observing and analysing human reaction. Through drama, I can express my observations.

Reading was my only entertainment. I read the Four

My first job after graduation was as a scriptwriter at TVB in

Through drama I can express my observations.

lights, camera, action! It took a long time to prepare, from research to consultation with various parties like legal personnel and officers from HKCSD, interviews with inmates to real production which took almost six months. In each 20-minute episode, we wanted to warn the public of the consequences of committing crimes. We also had to decide whether each would have a good or bad ending, striking a balance between utopia and reality.

Behind the scenes of The Road Back.

1980. Eventually, after becoming director, I quit and accepted a lower salary for the position of assistant producer at RTHK TV, just one week before I got married. It made me a better producer, as I participated in every process of TV production, but it was not easy. The day my daughter was born (in the afternoon) I could only meet her after the outdoor shooting finished at 10pm. In 2000, the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department and RTHK TV co-hosted a special programme, The Road Back, to

educate the public about rehabilitation and warn against criminal behaviour. In each episode, one inmate or rehabilitated person would share their story. Sometimes they refused to show up at the very last minute because of anxiety about how people would judge them. Stanley Prison was one of the shooting locations of the programme. It is the maximum security institution for male adult remand and convicted persons in custody. To apply to shoot in the prison, we had to fill in a tremendous amount of documentation, including the personal information of all production members.

During my 32 years at RTHK TV, my favourite works include Our family doctor - each episode focused on one modern disease and showed how doctors and patients see each other. Another episode I directed in the Below the Lion Rock series focused on gender equality and the position of women in modern society. I retired in 2014 but I haven’t left drama behind. In the past few years, I have taught TV script writing in Hong Kong Baptist University. Recently, I was invited by Hong Kong Repertory Theatre to be the playwright in In Times of turmoil, a story adapted from a novel by Dr. Leung Fung Yee, which highlights many different types of bonds against the historical backdrop of Hong Kong and Guangdong in 1947-1949.



Sales & Marketing Sales Director Oliver Simons

Sales & Marketing Manager Charmaine Mirandilla Sales & Marketing Executive Maria Jones Kiran Hiranandani


PA to the Publisher Amanda Chia

Office Security Cat the dog


Photos by Graham Uden

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Red Hill Peninsula and the Dragon’s Back in Shek O Country Park. @southsidemag

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PARKS AND RESTORATION A new government study seeks to find ways to enhance the value of our country parks and hiking trails. Graham Turner takes a closer look.


ong Kong is home to myriad greenery and flora-heavy areas, but do we make the most of it? Turning barbecue sites into campgrounds and expanding trail running and mountain biking networks have all been flagged as possible ways to boost the value of Hong Kong’s country parks. The government has now launched a $2.6 million study looking at how to enhance the educational and recreational potential of country parks. The results are expected to be released for public discussion by mid-2018. This may come as a surprise to some given that as recently

Hong Kong is home to myriad greenery...but do we make the most of it?

as January of this year, outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chunying stated his interest in developing Hong Kong’s parks for residential use. He said the public should consider developing

“a small proportion of land on the periphery of country parks with relatively low ecological and public enjoyment value” for public housing and non-profit-making elderly homes, in exchange for incorporating more land with high ecological value into country parks - though skeptics might think this simply a means to use public sentiment towards the city’s country parks with the agenda still very much set on ploughing them for flats. So what does this new study actually entail? According to an AFCD spokesperson, “The study, covering all 24 country parks and 22 special areas in Hong Kong, will explore the

park life recreational potential of country parks and special areas in three broad aspects, namely overnight facilities, adventurous activities and leisure, and strengthen the educational functions of country parks and special areas as appropriate.” It wouldn’t be Hong Kong unless stakeholders were involved. “Views of relevant stakeholders, such as hiking associations, green groups, youth groups, ecotourism sector and professional bodies, will be taken into account at different stages of the study,” the spokesperson goes on to say. “Shortlisted proposals would be available for public consultation in early 2018.” The study will also identify potential environmental concerns, supporting facilities required and potential conflicts among users, and carry out broad assessments on the feasibility of the proposals with recommendations for implementation. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2018. In the meantime, “to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Country Parks, AFCD will organise a series of events from April to December, 2017 for the public to celebrate this special occasion,” the spokesperson continues. “The theme of the celebration programme is ‘Country Parks Our Legacy’

which signifies the Government and the public will join hands to cherish country”. As well holding metaphorical hands with the government, an array of educationalfocused activities will be organised, including a Hiking and Planting Day, Excursion with Experts, Plantation Enrichment Project, Trail Maintenance Workshop, “Joy” us Hiking, Go Green Family Camping, Tai Tong Fun Carnival,

roving exhibitions and public lectures. If any of these sound like your cup of tea, or if you want to keep an eye on the progress of the study, visit Got a local story? Have your say by emailing



OISHII! Our top sushi restaurants. Ronin | Recommended for purists - those who know and love their seafood. Fresh seafood is flown in daily from Tokyo’s world famous Tsukiji Market and arrives at the restaurant in the early evening, which means the best time to head down is after 7pm. The freshest imports include Otoro, Japanese Needlefish, Longtooth Grouper and Rosy Seabass. Ronin’s sushi masters use a traditional cooking method and add Japanese red vinegar which is fermented using natural sake yeast, to enhance the fragrance and texture of sushi rice. There’s also a great selection of skewers, tempura and desserts including The plum wine jelly or opt for Ronin’s tofu mousse. 6/F, M88, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, 6540 3666,


roll up, roll up! zuma | Stylish, spacious and famous for its free-flow weekend brunches, zuma is a popular choice for business lunches, dinner dates and cocktails with friends. The sushi menu comprises a variety of premium sashimi, nigiri and rolls including vegetarian options. Think soft shell crab with chilli mayonnaise, toro maki with yuzu pearl, sliced yellowtail with green chilli relish

and more. When it comes to omakase, every night is a surprise but you can always expect seasonal fish and the freshest seafood. LANDMARK, 15 Queen’s Road Central, 3657 6388,

60 seconds with Gary Tsang Hei, sushi chef at zuma When did you first know you wanted to be a sushi chef? I first had sushi when I was 18. My friend took me to a Japanese restaurant in New York and it totally surprised me. I wanted to find out how such simple ingredients could be made so delicious. Do you have a favourite type of sushi? I like nigiri the most. It’s just one slice of fish over rice but with a hundred possibilities. What’s the hardest part of preparing sushi? It requires 100 per cent concentration on the fish from head to tail: checking the quality, cleaning, filleting, slicing, serving - you can’t miss any step. What’s the most important thing for a sushi chef? Attitude. No matter how good a chef’s skills are, his or her attitude can tell you everything. What are some common mistakes people make while eating sushi? A lot of people dip their sushi in a lot of soy sauce or give their fish a ‘soy shower’. This is totally wrong. You need just the right amount of soy sauce to still taste the flavour of the fish. With nigiri, dip the fish side in soy sauce, never ever the rice side.

Genki Sushi | Originated from Tochiigi in the Kanto region of Japan, the first Genki Sushi opened in March 1995 in Hong Kong. With 40 outlets across Hong Kong, the casual Japanese sushi restaurant serves variations of sushi including hand rolls, gunkan, seared and sashimi. The spicy salmon and minced tuna and sakura shrimp roll are popular favourites. Genki Sushi also has a range of appetizers, hot, deep-fried and kaisen izakaya dishes. Opt for a seat around the revolving conveyor belt to see the range of sushi available. Various locations across Hong Kong including shop G46, G49C & G49E, West Comm block, Marina Square, Ap Lei Chau, 2553 2771,

Is the Hong Kong palate different from the Japanese? How so? Hong Kong is cosmopolitan – people’s habits change quickly, they always want to try something new. For example, in Hong Kong a lot of people like mayonnaise and spice. Japanese people typically prefer to eat their sushi in the traditional way, without much change.

UMI | Hidden behind a concealed wooden door on Hollywood Road, UMI offers diners an exclusive yet traditional edomae sushi experience. Brought to you by the Le Comptoir group, UMI is spearheaded by fourth generation sushi chef Yukio Kimijima, bringing guests the freshest imports that is sourced daily from Japan. Chef Kimijima expertly cuts and prepares the pieces of fish, using several garnishes and sauces to add flavour and bringing the flavours of the cut

to the surface. The omakase menu is priced at $1,588 and includes halibut, threadsale filefish with tuna being a strong focus on the Chef Kimijama’s menu. Make sure you book ahead of time as UMI only seats a limited of 10 guests at its seven-metre-long sushi counter. Shop 3, G/F, 159-163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2956 3177,


eating 60 seconds with Chef Dow of Kyoto Joe Do you have a favourite type of sushi? This is a tough question, but the Seabass Roll ($195) is especially good. The seabass is slightly fried and deep fried with spinach to make a tempura crust and dipped in miso seaweed sauce to give a zesty finish. What’s the hardest part of preparing sushi? It’s hard and it takes years to master sushi making. I‘d say the sushi rice preparation. Too much rice and it will be more than a mouthful; too little and it will be overpowered by the fish; too much pressure and it will be hard; too little and the pellet will fall apart. It takes your whole heart to do it. What is the most important ingredient in a piece of sushi? The rice. It takes precisely measured quantities of seasoning to make the perfect sushi rice. Can you give us a few basic pointers about eating sushi properly? It is OK to eat nigiri-zushi (sushi) with your hands. Pick up the sushi and dip the fish part into your shoyu (soy sauce), not the rice (to avoid soaking up too much shoyu). Eat nigiri style sushi in one bite. Gari (ginger) is considered a palate cleanser and eaten between bites or different types of sushi. What are some Hong Kong favourites that you will never see in Japan? Unlike Hong Kong, the chef in Japan designs the course for the season. It’s considered to be impolite if the guests request too much from the chef.

Kyoto Joe | Tucked away in Lan Kwai Fong with a loyal customer following, Kyoto Joe has been operating for decades. It offers a range of sushi, sashimi, rolls and salads, as well as fantastic set menus that showcase the chefs’ innovations. This month, the restaurant launches a new seven-course menu: Joe’s Kaiseki menu, $699 for a minimum of two guests. Using the freshest ingredients, from king crab to eel, sea urchin, abalone and prime sirloin, each dish is delicate

and perfectly balanced. The dessert options include mocha azuki, a chef creation, which is a red bean soup with cheesy Japanese rice cake. For a little more of a celebration, add $598 for a bottle of Taittinger Cuvee Brut Reserve Champagne. The Joe Kaiseki menu will be available till May 31. 2/F, 1 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2804 6800,

Inagiku | Helmed by experienced sushi chef Takashi Okabe, Inagiku serves guests a refined taste of Japanese cuisine. Chef Okabe has over 20 years of experience preparing sushi and sashimi, having previously worked at Hilton Tokyo and Tokyo Imperial Hotel. The restaurant is also renowned for its tempura dishes, teppanyaki and kaiseki. Set in brown and gold decor, Inagiku blends edo-style artwork with modern Japanese creations. The restaurant is able to seat up to 160 people with four private dining rooms, each having its own teppanyaki counter for a more intimate dining experience. 4/F, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2805 0600,




NIBBLES News from the dining scene.

Sakura Sakura

It’s your last chance to visit Sakura Sakura at Ovolo Southside. The pop-up Japanese beer garden and tapas joint closes in a couple of weeks. Head over for lunch or dinner and tuck For the into chicken last few kara-age months, sliders the hotel’s with spicy fourth slaw floor venue and katsu has sauce, been transformed tempura oysters into awith Japanese wasabi Hanamiand cream Garden-themed salmon roe, black wonderland, miso cod tacos complete with pickled with daikon sakura and trees, more. food Wash anditdrink. all Head over down with cult-favourite for lunch or dinner Japanese and tuck craftinto beer chicken kara-age Hitachino or Four sliders Fox Sake. with spicy slaw and katsu sauce, Sakura Sakura tempura runs until oysters mid-May. with wasabi To book, email and salmon roe, black miso cod tacos or with3460 call pickled 8157. daikon and more. Wash it all down with cult-favourite Japanese craft beer Hitachino or Four Fox Sake.


The “Over the Cheesecake next few months, Factory we plan to experiment to and Hong run a series of concepts that comes Kong The will welcome Cheesecake different Factory styles hasofarrived food and in Hong dining Kong’s to our Wong Harbour Chuk City, Hang Tsim property,” Sha Tsui.says The Food new location & Beverage marks Manager the restaurant Christianbrand’s Rasmus. 210th Watch location this space... globally. Diners are spoilt for choice with Sakura a selection Sakura runs of over until30 mid-May. cheesecakes For dining and specialty hours anddesserts to see the plus a la over carte 200 and menu set items. lunch The menus, Cheesecake visit Factory traces its roots Toback to book, 1940s email Detroit, outlets.southside@ovologroup. where Evelyn Overton, a mother com or call of two, 3460 was 8157. inspired by a recipe she found in the newspaper for her “Original” cheesecake. The Cheesecake 30 years later, Factory her son David convinced the to move across the comes tofamily Hong Kong The Cheesecake country and set up Factory The Cheesecake is coming toFactory Hong Kong. The Bakery, supplying new location, cheesecakes which marks to restaurants the restaurant brand’s throughout Los Angeles. 210th location globally,

Finally, is due to in open 1978,its the doors first ever next The month Cheesecake in Harbourrestaurant Factory City, Tsim opened Sha Tsui.inDiners Beverly will Hills, be spoilt for choice showcasing Evelyn’s with cakes a selection and desserts. of over 30The cheesecakes rest, as they say, andisspecialty history. desserts plus over 200 menu items. Mambo The Cheesecake Italiano Factory traces its roots back Lido to theCucina 1940sItaliana when Evelyn in Deep Overton, Water Bay a mother brings together of two, was simple inspired but delicious by a recipe Italian shefood, found in cocktails, the newspaper fresh juices, for her healthy “Original” smoothies cheesecake. and a Soon warm after, beach sheclub opened atmosphere. a cheesecake Located shop just above in Detroit thebut beach lateronmoved Deep Water operations Bay Road, to herthe restaurant basement,has supplying gorgeous cakes ocean to restaurants. views. Each day, 30 years the chef later,prepares her son delicious David convinced southernthe Italian bites familyand to move delights, across freshthe to country order including and set up paninis The Cheesecake and a live pasta Factory station. Bakery, Dine in supplying or take away and cheesecakes enjoy on the beach. to restaurants Open daily, 11am-11pm. throughout Los Call 2869 Angeles. 9631 for reservations Finally, in 1978, or to place the first a take-away ever order. The Cheesecake Factory restaurant


snake charmer

THE SSSNAKE SSSPOTTING GUIDE Snake season is here, but what should you do if you see one? Snake catcher William Sargent is here to help.


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snake charmer


nake season is upon us (May September), so if you’re planning on going for a hike in Hong Kong’s countryside over the next five months, be prepared to encounter one of these limbless reptiles. Here at Southside Magazine, we’ve heard (and reported on) lots of snake stories, but how much do we really know about these creatures? William Sargent, Government-appointed snake catcher and founder of Facebook group Hong Kong Snakes is here to shed some light upon the subject. “My message is always about education. Snakes are often portrayed as some kind of evil deity, but in terms of nature, they are no stranger than a frog or a gecko,” he says. “Snakes are simply part of our ecology - and an important part too. I find it a contradiction if people say they like nature and the outdoors, but hate snakes.” Hong Kong has wide variety of different reptiles (snakes, turtles and lizards). Snakes, which have scales, come in many different forms and are highly adapted to their environment. Most snakes are egg layers (oviparous) with some, like the Bamboo Pit Viper, giving birth to fully formed live snakes (viviparous). All snakes are carnivores, and hunt a variety of different prey including other snakes, frogs, fish, mammals, insects and worms. The vast majority of snakes pose little or no risk to humans. Hong Kong has about half a dozen snakes that can be considered potentially dangerous, however, if left alone,

they are extremely unlikely to cause any issues to humans. Most snake bites are the result of humans trying to catch or kill snakes, or accidentally stepping on or near them. Over 90 per cent of snake bites come from one species (Bamboo Pit Viper). Some Hong Kong snakes are fully grown at 10cm (such as the Blind Snake), others (such as the Burmese Python) can reach up to five metres. Mountain Pit Vipers can only be found on our highest peaks, whereas Cobras can be found in a large variety of habitats and locations. Snakes are present where there is food. Although they may venture into human areas, snakes are far more common in our country parks, especially on hills and near streams.

Snakes are cold-blooded and rely on the sun to warm themselves. They are mostly dormant during the colder months and most active from May to September.

(Left): teaching the next generation; (Above): handling a Burmese Python and photographing a Chinese Cobra.

What should you do if you come across a snake? • Remain calm. Snakes have no interest in confrontation. • Keep pets and children away. • Move away slowly and give the snake space to flee. • If the snake does not move, find an alternative route.


cover story

HONG KONG SNAKES There are around 55 snake species around Hong Kong, not including the six species of sea snake that are mostly absent from our seas nowadays. Although venomous snakes are common in all 24 of Hong Kong’s country parks (including Tai Tam, Shek O and Pokfulam), the last recorded snakebite death in Hong Kong occurred over 20 years ago. Here’s our guide to the most common snakes in Hong Kong and what to do if you encounter them.

Red-necked Keelback Bamboo Snake (White-Lipped Pit Viper) Scientific name: trimeresurus albolabris Venomous: yes Appearance: bright green, yellow eyes, with distinctive reddish-brown tail, triangular head Size: average 50cm, can grow up to 90cm Habitat: shrubland, grassland The Bamboo Snake is responsible for over 90 per cent of all snake bites in Hong Kong but with no recorded fatalities. The snake is nocturnal and is an ambush hunter, relying on its camouflage and waiting for unsuspecting prey, which explains why the majority of snake bites come from this species.

Scientific name: rhabdophis subminiatus helleri Venomous: yes Appearance: olive green, with a red patch behind the head Size: average 1m Habitat: near streams or locations where their favourite prey (common toad) is common. One of Hong Kong’s most common venomous snakes, the Red-necked Keelback has a highly toxic venom. However, it lacks true fangs and can only deliver a venomous bite through its enlarged rear teeth which makes envenomation very unlikely (it would bite and hold on for several seconds to produce a venomous bite).

Burmese Python Scientific name: python bivittatus Venomous: no Appearance: yellow with large brown spots Size: average 3-4m, maximum size in Hong Kong is 5m Habitat: shrubland, woodland and mangrove swamps The Burmese Python is Hong Kong’s largest snake and can be found in a variety of locations, but more commonly in areas of thicker jungle. It typically eats birds and small mammals, but if hungry may attempt larger prey such as dogs, deer or boar. The Burmese Python does not prey on humans, but there have been isolated cases where pythons have bitten passing hikers. The Burmese Python is a protected species in Hong Kong and interfering with or killing one may result in a fine and/or imprisonment.

Many Banded Krait Greater Green Scientific name: cyclophiops major Venomous: no Appearance: bright green, often mistaken for the Bamboo Snake. Size: average 75-90cm, sometimes up to 120cm Habitat: humid forests, shrubland, woodland, grassland The Greater Green eats mainly earthworms, insect larvae, and other soft-bodied invertebrates. It’s mild-mannered and rarely bites, moving slowly unless alarmed. It’s common throughout Hong Kong.


Scientific name: bungarus multicinctus Venomous: yes Appearance: alternating black and white bands Size: average 1-1.2m Habitat: marshland, shrubland, woodland, catch waters A highly venomous species with a potent neurotoxic venom that targets the nervous system. Bites from the Many Banded Krait may at first be relatively painless, but can develop into critical organ failure if treatment is not sought. The Many Banded Krait has a flexible neck that can twist and bite even when held behind the neck.

stick me on your fridge!

Indo Chinese Ratsnake Scientific name: ptyas korros Venomous: no Appearance: olive-brown with a long tail and large eyes Size: average 1.2-1.5m (can reach nearly 2m) Habitat: found in open, low lying areas such as grassy banks of streams and reservoirs, edges of cultivated fields and ponds, dry shrubland and woodland. The Indo Chinese Ratsnake is a very common snake and feeds largely on frogs, but also rodents and lizards. It is most active during the daytime and common throughout Hong Kong, including many islands. This species of snake is very fast and will usually dart off if approached unless it is agitated, in which case it will bite quickly and vigorously. It’s commonly sold in snake shops for its gall bladder and meat and, as a result, is considered endangered in China.

Common Rat Snake (Oriental Rat Snake) Scientific name: ptyas mucosus Venomous: no Appearance: light brown Size: average 2-2.2m Habitat: shrubland, grassland, gardens The largest of Hong Kong’s four ratsnake species (third longest snake overall) and common throughout Hong Kong. The Common Rat snake is very fast, feeds on frogs and mammals and is quick to defend itself when feeling threatened.

Chinese Cobra Scientific name: naja atra Venomous: yes Appearance: hooded with a distinct white marking (usually a monocle shape) on its neck. Black but sometimes grey or, in rarer cases, light brown. Size: average 1.1m Habitat: grassland, shrubland, woodland, mangrove swamps Of the highly-toxic snakes in Hong Kong, Chinese Cobras are the most common. They feed on a large variety of prey including other reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Chinese Cobras are responsible for a few bites in Hong Kong each year, but due to modern medical access, there have not been any reported fatalities in over 20 years.

King Cobra Scientific name: ophiophagus hannah Venomous: yes Appearance: hooded, black with yellow bands (varies by individual and age). Size: average 4m, can grow up to 6m Habitat: grassland, shrubland, woodland, mangrove swamps The King Cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake and can be found throughout the New Territories. It has a toxic venom and can inject large quantities due to its sheer size. The King Cobra is a very shy creature and will avoid humans unless approached whilst guarding its nest of eggs, in which case it may become very defensive. These snakes have caused human fatalities in Hong Kong in the past, but are now very rare (possibly non-existent) on Hong Kong Island.

Common Blind Snake (Flowerpot Snake) Scientific name: ramphotyphlops braminus Venomous: no Appearance: dark brown or black Size: average 10cm Habitat: almost any terrestrial habitat Possibly Hong Kong’s (and the world’s) most abundant snake. This tiny snake looks similar to an earthworm and often the only way to tell the difference is by the flickering of its tongue. The Common Blind snake is often found burrowed underground. If handled or threatened, it can use its tail to cause a harmless prick.

What should you do if you’re bitten by a snake? • Remain calm. • Move away from the snake. • Make careful note of the snake’s appearance, ideally take a picture if you can. • Call for emergency help, or if quicker to do so, go directly to the nearest major hospital. • Remove restrictive jewellery. • Apply a pressure bandage to the affected area. • Call 999 (or if nearby, go straight to hospital).


cover story

Talking snakes with William Sargent Tell me about yourself. I live on Lantau and run my own sporting events business. My parents moved to Hong Kong when I was 2. My father was a civil engineer working on the first MTR line. Shortly after moving here my parents bought a small weekend place on Lantau Island with another family. In those days, Lantau was much more of a frontier/camping type place for weekend trips and hikes, and a lot less busy than now. My brother and his good friend Dave Willot (who became and still is, a snake catcher for the police) used to go out looking for snakes and would bring them home. By the time I was 10, I was in charge of my first pet - a small Greater Green (grass snake) - and I was hooked. Later, my parents moved us to Lantau full time. it was - and still is - a great place to find all kinds of wildlife, but my passion has always been snakes. By the time I was 14, I was allowed to go off by myself (well, I that’s how I remember it) and that’s when I really started to learn just how many types of snake there are in Hong Kong and that each one behaves completely differently. I learnt that the character of each species dictates their behaviour, and in turn, how best to handle them. I’ve had no formal training to handle snakes; most of what I’ve learnt is by simple trial and error, with a few bumps along the way!

How did you become a snake catcher? I have always helped to remove snakes from the houses and gardens of friends (or friends of friends) and tried to educate people about the true nature and risk of snakes. A few years ago we moved back to Lantau (to my own place) and I started working from home. This gave me the flexibility to start catching snakes in a more formal way. The final kick to apply to the police for the snake catcher job was after seeing a group of six police in our village waiting for a snake catcher to arrive - they wouldn’t let me get involved as I wasn’t officially approved. Instead, they waited three hours for the snake catcher to come from Chai Wan, just to move a python. I saw this as an opportunity to help, so I applied and I got approved.


William holding a python.

How often do you remove snakes during snake season? It varies depending on the month and the weather, but in the summer I am contacted pretty much every day, often more than once. Most of time I can calm people down just by talking to them, but I will go out and remove the snake if necessary. I only cover Lantau Island. I am also the only Lantau based snake catcher for the Lantau Police. They call me two or three times a week in the busier months. For the police jobs, they pay me which is a bonus!

Fear stems from the unknown...many people know that snakes have the potential to be dangerous, but they don’t know much more than that

Snakes have a bad reputation - in literature they are often cast as villains. Why do you think this is? Fear stems from the unknown. Horror films, children’s scary stories, the boogeyman...they all usually contain some unknown entity that can do you harm. It’s the same with snakes: many people know that snakes have the potential to be dangerous, but they don’t know much more than that so their mind fills in the gaps. Education removes the mystery and replaces it with an understanding of the behaviour of snakes, the risks and how they are likely to respond, thereby taking away a lot of unnecessary worry.


cover story What’s your favourite snake and why? We have an amazing diversity within the 50+ species of snakes that Hong Kong enjoys. We have some of the largest, smallest, most toxic snakes in the world. Of all the snakes we have here, I think I would have to say the Burmese Python is my favourite. They are stunning and can be huge. We are so lucky in Hong Kong to have a healthy population of these predators. It was one of the first pet snakes I ever had.

Have you ever been bitten? What happened? Once, when I was a teenager, I was putting a bamboo snake into a plastic container and noticed it had got me with one fang. I waited for a while and realised it was a dry bite, so carried on with our hike. That’s the only real close call I’ve had. I’ve been bitten many times by non-venomous snakes, which is like being scratched by a rose bush twig. I’ve also been bitten a couple of times by larger Pythons (10+ft), but again, it didn’t do much more damage than a scratch. I was lucky as the bigger pythons can give you a nastier bite.

What have been your strangest and most dangerous encounters? Last summer I was called to a closed prison in Chi Ma Wan, near where I grew up. I loved it, as I had wanted to see what the inside of the place looks like since I was a kid!

A 12 ft. python William caught for the police in the summer of 2015 - it had just eaten a cat.

The summer before that, I was called to move a large python from another operating prison - it had eaten the prison cats. That was unusual.

A couple of years ago I caught a Fer-de-lance in the Peruvian Amazon with my bare hands Another time, I had call from a lady who couldn’t enter her house (and had been waiting outside for a couple of hours) because of a snake in her doorway. When I arrived, the lady was terrified and pointed to the shoe rack...I “bravely” removed the 10cm baby checkered keelback (a harmless stream snake) from her property. That still makes me laugh. In terms of dangerous situations, I try to be as safe as possible and these days I use professional grade equipment. In my twenties there was a lot more bare hands, bravado and adrenaline and I took more risks. A couple of years ago I caught a Fer-de-lance in the Peruvian Amazon with my bare hands as I didn’t have any equipment with me at the time - that was a bit scary. They are responsible for the majority of snake deaths in South America and can give an extremely unpleasant bite. We were a long way from the nearest medical facility.


What do you hope to achieve through your Facebook group and educational talks? I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing how I can affect change. Many people have never had anyone challenge their views or give them a calm and considered view on snakes. I’ve had people who’ve gone from being so scared that they can’t hike on natural trails, to becoming snake champions simply because they made the effort to learn a bit more. I set up the Hong Kong Snakes Facebook page, to help people identify snakes and become desensitised. When they see pictures from other members of various snake encounters and how they responded, it offers them a different way to react themselves. For my friends and many snake experts, it is a fantastic resource to find out what snakes are being seen where and when. Photos courtesy of William Sargent. Additional photography by Tontan Travel, Kevin Messenger, Thomas Brown and Rushen via wikicommons.

Want more information? William organises educational talks to schools, community groups and private functions. To get in touch, email him at



AMERICAN SCHOOL HONG KONG Kate Davies takes a tour.


rincipal John Jalsevac is not afraid of a new beginning. He’s been a part of kick-starting three schools; Canadabased Mary Ward Secondary School, Mission Hills International School in Shenzhen and now the American School in Tai Po. “There’s a sense of a pioneer spirit in building a new school. You’re all here for the first time. It’s like you’ve got a block of clay that you can mould in any way you like. It’s really special.” His latest venture is most definitely in its infancy, complete with freshly painted white walls, brand new furniture and floors of empty classrooms. The classrooms that are used, are filled with smiling, confident young children, welcoming teachers and walls peppered with multicoloured learning apparatus and students’ work. Principal Jalsevac’s office is tucked away at the end of the administrative wing


of the school and yet we can still hear the sounds of children laughing and jostling in the playground. “We opened in September 2016 with 106 students,” he begins, “Kindergarten to Grade Six.” He goes on to explain that they only moved into the building from an office in Central just two months before that; the building itself is not new, it was built in the early nineties. When the Education Board granted the location for the American School, Principal Jalsevac and his team had the existing building retrofitted. They kept the footprint of the original school but everything has been refurbished with new floors, ceilings, walls, plumbing, electrical and millwork. It’s designed to accommodate one thousand students with six floors of classrooms and specialty classrooms, an elementary library,

a cafeteria plus a covered and an open playground. Their brand new state-of-the-art gymnasium is now open and plans for a swimming pool are being discussed. The 150-milliondollar revamp is still ongoing but the remaining work is done during school holidays so as not to disturb classes.

open day

While “new” remains the overriding feeling here, the school is owned by the world’s largest operator of International American Schools, ESOL (Education Services Overseas Limited). American School Hong Kong is its newest addition and its first foray into Southeast Asia. So far the 106 attending students are spread over two kindergarten classes (which begin at approximately 5 years old) and one class per grade from one (age 6) through to grade six (age 11). In the next academic year, they will be opening their doors and new classrooms to Grade Seven and Eight, which will complete the American School’s Middle School. Finally, the High School will be added a year later with Grade 9.

There’s a sense of pioneer spirit in building a new school.

“Our enrollment this [academic] year was 106 and our target was 100. Next year we are projecting 250 students and we are well on the way to getting that.” Principal Jalsevac is clearly confident that, now the school is open and people are coming to see for themselves what they are creating, enrolment numbers will rise, but he’s been here before and is aware of the challenges. “You’ve got to work hard as a new school, because the established schools have earned the reputations they enjoy.” He is aware that many parents will chose an established school over a new one and this is

part of the challenge. “I’m familiar with best practice. I know what good schools look like but that doesn’t mean in [the parents’] eyes that in only months [of being open] we have been able to demonstrate that we are a highly selective, top tier school.” Their aim as set out in the brochure is ‘To deliver a rigorous curriculum, focused on developing well-rounded, motivated, openminded and thoughtful global citizens.’ To do this, they have chosen to use the US Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for the Elementary and Middle Schools while the High School will teach the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma programme. They intend to teach the material by following the ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology,

Engineering, Arts and Math) approach where teaching is done through units of enquiry, in groups, where topics across subjects intersect. The idea is to approach teaching in a way that reflects the world and the workplace that students will graduate into. Principal Jalsevac explains that mathematics, art, science, engineering and technology do not exist in silos in real life nor do we work only in isolation in the workplace, so it makes sense to teach children to work in groups and learn these subjects in conjunction with one another. “We chose not to do the Primary Years Programme (the International Baccalaurate’s answer to Elementary and Middle School education) which has a lot of similarities to STEAM in that students are engaged in units of inquiry.



We guide them through essential questions [but] we don’t spoon feed them. We get them to develop ownership and responsibility for their education.” The curriculum is just one part of the holistic education Principal Jalsevac is intent on giving his students. He sees academic excellence as larger than marks and performance but inclusive of social, physical and creative development.


That in turn goes hand in hand with extracurricular activities that cater not just for sports and arts but service learning, leadership and next generation science. At the base of all this for him though is a sense of community. “It’s the old ‘school spirit’ thing and I don’t think it’s hokey. I think it’s really important.” As I speak to him he is hours away from flying out to recruit new teachers. For him, his

open day

School Report

staff need to operate ‘In Loco Parentis’, which basically translates to ‘how a good parent would in absence of a parent’ and when hiring new staff, he actively looks for that in addition to qualifications. “I never apologise for having high expectations and standards in a school. There’s a huge body of evidence that says schools should have several things; strong teachers, outstanding leadership, but high expectations

and high standards is always on top.” For a man with a long ‘to do’ list Principal Jalsevac is very calm. It becomes clear to me that he views this challenge as a kind of a privilege where he thinks of this as a fantastic opportunity and that not every educator gets to do this, which is a sentiment he tries to impress on his staff. “I think we go backwards and forwards as staff thinking there’s some

Established: 2016 Class size: 23 Curriculum: KG1 teacher + 1 EA for 18 students, G1-2: 1 teacher + 1 EA for no more than 20 students, G3-G8: 24 students Max Fees 2016/2017: See website for details Non refundable capital levy: HK$20,000 Address: 6 Ma Chung Road, Tai Po, New Territories Tel: 3919 4111

hardship because everything we do is new.” Despite this, it’s clear he’s ready to forge forward, “Even with all of that” he smiles, “I wouldn’t trade it for a minute”.


big day out

A SHAM CHUNG ADVENTURE Rory Mackay explores the depths of Sai Kung West Country Park.


emote, picturesque and obscure. Sham Chung possesses a little bit of something for everyone. With its traditional hamlets and old woodlands, set in a basin ringed by rolling hills, the Sham Chung region is one of the jewels in the crown of rural Hong Kong. From family-friendly outings and historical rekeys, to day hikes and mountain biking, this idyllic enclave has plenty of enticing options to keep you more than entertained for the day. Easily reached, it makes for a convenient full or half day trip away from the city. Nestled within the northern coastline of Sai Kung West Country Park, Sham Chung was once synonymous with being one of Hong Kong’s largest wetland areas. Despite these not existing anymore, it is still a lovely place to visit full of ponds and open grassland, a very rare sight in Hong Kong. By far the simplest way to reach the area is through Yung Shue O. Getting there can be done from either the Sai Kung or Sha Tin side of the surrounding mountain ranges. The 99 and 299x KMB bus routes run between Sai Kung and Heng On MTR and Sha Tin MTR respectively and will deposit you at the head of the access road to Yung Shue O. From this junction it is a 45-minute walk down the single-track road to reach Yung Shue O, so if you’re short on time, it is advisable to take a taxi instead (costs $60 from Sai Kung Town). Once you have reached the village of Yung Shue O, the road stops and the hiking trail begins. Make sure to follow the painted banners in Yung Shue O that indicate the way to Sham Chung and not the wooden signposts. The concrete footpath then winds its way through the village and onto a stunning coastline with views across Tolo Harbour and Ma On Shan. From


there, it is a 45-minute stroll along the coastline to Sham Chung Ferry Pier and then inland to the village grasslands. If you had been tackling this route back at the turn of the 20th century, the footpath would have swept into a shallow lagoon, but then in the 1920s it was drained to create a sizable area of arable land. The fertility of this land subsequently led to the founding of Sham Chung village and the remains of this are still there to see today, however it is now occupied by a dai pai dong.

Along with many similar villages across Hong Kong, Sham Chung village met its demise as the territory became more developed and many folks left these small communities in the New Territories for the opportunity to make more money elsewhere. Since then, controversy has surrounded plans by Sun Hung Kai Properties for a golf course and recreation centre in Sham Chung. It appears that the developers went ahead and begun the initial construction of a course without planning consent. Then never followed through after they were unable to rubber stamp the project.

Despite its chequered history, the region is still teaming with some very unique wildlife for hikers to keep an eye out for. Extremely rare elsewhere in Hong Kong, the colourful Paradise Fish and relatively large Brown Fish Owl have found a home in leafy areas of Sham Chung. There is then the abundance of other birds, reptiles, insects and wild cattle that one would expect to find across the Sai Kung Peninsula. For most folks, it is advisable to simply return from Sham Chung the same way you entered. Taxis can often be hard to come by at Yung Shue O, so make sure to factor in extra time on the return leg in order to walk back to Sai Sha Road. Once back on the main road, there are plenty of taxis and different buses to take back to Sai Kung or Sha Tin. For those who fancy doing that little bit more, follow the trail inland to reach the far northern extremities of the country park at Pak Sha O and Hoi Ha. This route is suitable for hikers and cyclists alike. All in all, Sham Chung is packed to the brim to see and explore, and fun for all involved. Rory Mackay runs adventure company Wild Hong Kong. For details, visit


THE ANAM, CAM RANH Shreena Patel heads to one of South Vietnam’s newest resorts.



The Anam Beach Club Pool.




ancy a relaxing break but tight on time? If soft sandy beaches, clear blue ombre seas and sunshine are what you’re after, look no further than The Anam, Cam Ranh. Located along the southeastern coast of Vietnam, travelling to Cam Ranh from Hong Kong used to entail at least two flights (typically with a stopover in Ho Chi Minh), but since HK Express introduced Hong Kong’s first and only direct route to Cam Ranh International Airport last November, all that has changed. The area’s idyllic beaches, fresh seafood and jungle clad mountains are now just a twohour flight away. The Anam is a five-star resort situated on Long Beach, a 15-minute drive from the airport. Noise is not a problem at all: once inside the resort, the occasional sighting of a plane in the distance is the only clue to your proximity to runways and terminals. Just outside the walls of the resort, the dry, bare landscape – a stark contrast to the lush green gardens and residences of The Anam - impresses upon me the scale of this development and the effort required to maintain it in this environment.

Rooms The 12-hectare resort began its soft opening last September and celebrated its grand opening last month. Comprising two parts: The Anam Villas (117 villas, from one- to threebedrooms) and The Anam Deluxe Collection


(a hotel with 96 rooms), it overlooks 300 metres of beachfront on Vietnam’s scenic Cam Ranh peninsula. The resort is elegantly designed, with dark woods, blue-and-white mosaic tiles and imperial rooftops amid green lawns and cobbled stone paths. Villas have a garden, pool or ocean view; 27 have their own private swimming pools. They range from 50-267 square metres in size, and all premium villas have a living room with a sofa that can be converted into a daybed. Each of the 12 threebedroom villas has an ocean view, private swimming pool, living room and kitchen – ideal

for families and groups. Two of the private pool villas feature exclusive spa therapy areas with a steam room and Jacuzzi – guests staying at these villas get two complimentary spa treatments per day. Worth a special mention are the beds: I have the king-sized Sealy mattresses, 300-thread count cotton Irish bed linen and goose down pillows to thank for the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months.



Activities Relaxing doesn’t have to mean doing nothing – and the resort has plenty to keep guests busy. Facilities include a tennis court, beach club with pool and fussball tables, yoga studio and gym, three large swimming pools (the Beach Club pool is for adults only), spa and beauty salon (with 10 private treatment rooms and a range of traditional Balinese treatments) and a 3D movie theatre – though in an area that averages over 300 sunny days per year, you may not want to be stuck inside for long. There’s also a kids’ club and complimentary supervised activities for children. Behind the beach, a large green lawn provides glorious views of the sea and plenty of space for yoga, volleyball, badminton, football and

frisbee games and sepak takraw (known as ‘kick volleyball’, native to southeast Asia). Alternatively, put your feet up on a hammock with a good book, beneath the shade of one of the resort’s 3,000 palm trees. There’s a wonderful warm breeze down by the beach and The Anam’s water sports centre has a selection of equipment for hire, from kayaks, to snorkels, sailboats and body boards. For a larger and cheaper selection of equipment (but more crowded waters), turn left out of the resort and onto the beach, keep walking until you reach the row of huts. We rented a SUP from The Shack for VND200,000 per hour. The Anam can also organise a fishing excursion in a Vietnamese coracle boat and diving with

Sailing Club Divers, Vietnam’s longest running PADI Five Star Dive Centre. Golf enthusiasts will be pleased to hear The Anam is a few minutes from Long Beach’s 27-hold Cam Ranh Links Golf Resort, due to open in September this year.

Don’t miss the seafood BBQ buffet



The Indochine Restaurant.

The Indochine restaurant, near the lobby, offers all day dining (including a delicious buffet breakfast). A Vietnamese set lunch menu is available here on demand and the restaurant also hosts a range of buffet dinners to themes that change daily. Don’t miss the seafood BBQ buffet (freshly caught and barbecued tiger prawns, lobsters, crabs and more). Meanwhile, the Indochine Grill specializes in European fine dining (no children allowed). For pre-dinner drinks, head to The Saigon Bar. Its outdoor terrace overlooks one of The Anam’s three pools and there is live music here each night. The bar has a small a la carte menu and is also open during the day for lunch and afternoon tea. GM (general manager) drinks are held just outside on the lawn every Friday night from 6pm with free-flow wine and beer, a chance for guests and management to mingle before dinner.



For magnificent ocean views while you dine, head to the Beach Club which has an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea. The food will take a little longer to arrive as it has to be transported from the main kitchen, but the views are worth it. A great spot for lunch or dinner. The Sports Bar by the ocean offers drinks and finger food during the afternoon. Couples who want something romantic should consider the dining experience for two: a candle-lit table on the lawn by the beach and a five-course BBQ dinner with a private waiter and chef. Only one table is available nightly, so book in advance. In-room dining is also available and private BBQs are possible if you are in one of the pool villas.

When to go Cam Ranh has a tropical climate, averaging about 27oC year round. As for The Anam, the best time to go is now, while the resort is not at full capacity and the beach is still relatively undeveloped (A number of other hotels are being built along the road back to the airport but are not yet complete). The Anam is still ironing out a few issues, mainly with communications, but it is a blissful place and the staff are friendly and try their best to be helpful. There seems to be a mixture of couples, friends and families - many from China and Russia with an increasing number from Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.

Essentials Nightly rates start at USD200 for the Balcony Garden View Room and rise to USD800 for the singular Anam Ocean View Pool Villa (three bedrooms). The Anam Long Beach, Northern Peninsula Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam +84 583 989 499 Email

What’s around? Prior to Vietnam’s expansion southward from the Red River Delta in the 15th century, Cam Ranh was part of the Kingdom of Champa. If you can tear yourself away from the resort for a day, you may wish to visit nearby Nha Trang, where the Po Nagar Towers – the remains of an ancient Champa temple built between the seventh and 12th century - still stand. Other sights include Long Son Pagoda, Dam Market and Nui Church. Sightseeing shouldn’t take more than a few hours – if you’re looking for something to eat afterwards, Yen’s is a popular choice for Vietnamese food. Later in the evening try The Sailing Club – located on the beachfront, it has a range of Vietnamese and international food, a live DJ in the evenings and plenty of seating from where you can watch the sun set over the ocean. A shuttle bus operates from the resort to Nha Trang town twice per day in both directions (the last bus back to the resort is at 6:30pm; a metered taxi-ride will cost VND350400,000 each way).


An Ocean View Pool Villa.





BETH NARAIN From spinning discs at The Peninsula Hotel’s nightclub, to living through the ‘67 riots, the handover and SARS, Beth Narain recalls 50 years of Hong Kong. By Shreena Patel.

Tell me about yourself. I was born in Durban, South Africa. I started ballet at the age of 5 in Cape Town and moved to London at 14 to study at the Royal Ballet School. By 17 I was travelling Europe as a dancer. I couldn’t imagine life without music. I grew up surrounded by it: from my mother who loved to dance, to my nanny who - when I was a baby - used to strap me onto her back while she danced and did the housework to African beats. My personal favourite is ‘60s Motown. I love wine, good food (I’d rather not eat if it’s not good) and I’m a TV addict. I love dramas and thrillers.


What brought you to Hong Kong? I came to Hong Kong in 1966 after my older brother Tokkie Smith, who pioneered the Hong Kong Sevens, invited me here on holiday. I didn’t like it at all when I arrived - it was too conservative for me - but he’d bought me a three-month ticket so I stayed. Tokkie used to take me to parties at the HSBC living quarters up on The Peak but everyone was a lot older and it wasn’t really my crowd.

Given your first impressions of the city, what made you stay? My feelings towards Hong Kong changed when The Scene Discotheque opened in the

basement of The Peninsula Hotel. I attended the opening night in a silver lamé dress I’d bought from the BIBA boutique in London. They asked me if I wanted to spin discs and I said, “yes”. I became manageress and ran the disco for years. I worked every night, except Sundays, from 8pm until 2am - I was already used to the hours because of my dance career. During the day, I worked as a ballet teacher and a choreographer for TVB’s Star Show (a pop show), so I didn’t sleep much! I’m making up for it now - I love a lie in.

Where did you live? At first, I stayed with Tokkie and his wife at their place in Repulse Bay. There was no Cross

50 years of HK Harbour tunnel back then (it opened later in 1972) so each night after we closed up I would catch the walla walla from Star Ferry Pier back to Hong Kong island. It only cost a dollar or two and was always full of drunk people.

What was it like working a Hong Kong hotel nightclub? I loved my job at The Scene - it’s the reason I stayed in Hong Kong, even during the riots of 1967, which was a scary time for everyone. I chose all the music that was played at the club and had access to all the top hits. One of the best things I did was to introduce live music - I brought in singers from London, Hong Kong, the States...including Peter Nelson and The Lotus.

What was the crowd like? We had a dress code at the club. Men had to wear a jacket and tie. Eventually, I persuaded them to relax it (to a turtle neck!) and then to something more casual.

(Above): Beth (far right) on the decks at The Scene; (Below): dancing the night away.

The Vietnam War was going on...and American soldiers would come to Hong part of the R&R programme. Sometimes they would come into the club for a jam session

We used to get a mixed crowd (there was no age restriction) including a lot of celebrities who were staying at the hotel, like the racing driver Stirling Moss, the actress Nancy Kwan and others. The Vietnam War was going on at the time and American soldiers would come to Hong Kong regularly as part of the R&R programme. While here, the servicemen would spend money like crazy and, sometimes, they would come into the club for a jam session which was fun.

Are there any other places in Hong Kong of particular significance to you? I got married at Union Church in Mid-levels. It was a hippy wedding: I wore a tie-dye kaftan and knee high boots! For a while we lived on the island on Castle Road, but in 1971 there was a terrible

typhoon (Rose) and a building collapsed nearby. One lady got caught in the rubble and died. We were on the 18th floor of a building called Merry Court and there was a blackout. The water came gushing in, the dining room table was flying up towards the ceiling and we literally had to grab our things and run down the steps. It was terrifying. After that, we decided to move to a little house in the New Territories on Castle Peak Road - before my two daughters were born. It was very isolated and I hated it. Later, we moved to Kadoorie Avenue.

I also started the city’s first ladies’ exercise studio - the Lotte Berk Studio - in the late ‘70s. The method we taught is now known as “Barre”. And from 1985 to 1995, I had my own studio - Beth’s Workout - on Wyndham Street. I took out an ad for it in HK Magazine.

I heard you once punched Bruce Lee... My husband was very creative and came from a tailoring family. We had a few shops in Hong Kong. The first was a boutique called The Om Shoppe at 1 Duddell Street. Later,



we opened Jeans East in Wan Chai. My husband’s business partner, Andy, was also in the film business and was about to make a film with Bruce Lee. I remember him bringing this tiny guy (Lee) into the shop one day and saying, “This guy is really famous and very fit.” Lee said, “You wanna see how fit I am? Punch me,” so I did. And he was pretty fit. Unfortunately, Lee died before the film could be made.

How has Hong Kong changed in these 50 years? I’ve seen some big changes, but when you live in a place continuously, they appear very gradually. It’s like growing old: you look at yourself in the mirror every day and you see a little wrinkle here and there, but it’s not a shock. For example, just before the Handover in 1997, the widespread sentiment was one of excitement and hope. I remember a taxi driver (you get a lot of feedback from taxi drivers) saying, “Yes, yes! The British are leaving. We’re going back to the motherland - it’s wonderful,” but in the years that have followed this attitude has changed, at least in part, as demonstrated by the Occupy protests in 2014.


What’s been your worst time in Hong Kong?

The worst time in Hong Kong for me was during the SARS epidemic. How have your experiences shaped you? Having worked in foreign countries since the age of 17, I’ve learned how to recognise dangerous situations and deal with them, although I think a lot of kids in Hong Kong nowadays are not equipped in the same way. Nevertheless, working at a nightclub, I did occasionally find myself in a spot of bother. I was once attacked by a group of bar girls on my way home. Another time, a man came into the club drunk and tried to sit at the staff table. I politely explained that it was the staff area and showed him another table where he could sit and he hit me. These things didn’t happen often though.

The worst time in Hong Kong for me was during the SARS epidemic. It was a depressing and frightening time for everyone. People were taken from infected buildings in vans and isolated. It was very scary. Working as a personal trainer, people didn’t want you to come to their house in case you were infected. There was a lot of fear and misunderstanding. I went to Australia for two weeks and one of my friends didn’t even want to meet me for fear of catching it. My flight there was empty.

What do you love about the city? The convenience. I have the nail salon, the massage place, the supermarket, restaurants, shops, bars right at my doorstep. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to live.

What are you up to now? I work as an instructor at PURE and do personal training. I’m also thinking about writing a book - I have a lot of stories to tell! Beth still teaches. If you’d like to get in touch, visit




Ask a vet... Dr. Pauline Pets Central veterinarian Dr. Pauline Taylor answers your questions.

Q: “Is my dog depressed?” A: There is a debate about whether the term “depression” should be used for non-humans. That said, I think it is right to apply signs seen in human depression to animals provided they are assessed while looking at the animal’s overall behaviour. Signs include withdrawal from normal things (walks, play), altered sleep-wake patterns and loss of interest in things they used to like to do, such as eating. Ongoing changes like these should be assessed by your vet in a physical examination. If your dog is physiologically well, “triggers” of depressed behaviour can be discussed, and treatment options. Remember, lots of cuddles will never go wrong! Q: “My dog won’t let me cut his toenails and they’re starting to get long. What can I do?” A: Some dogs have sensitive feet and strongly dislike them being touched, never mind having their nails cut. The best thing is to train all pups to be comfortable with feet handling and nail trimming by introducing them early on to nail clippers and the noise they make. Reward him or her for allowing handlers to touch and clip the nails. Regular walking and playing with dogs on hard surfaces helps to wear nails down naturally. Failing this, if nails really are long some dogs may require sedation for a trim. Q: “My dog keeps chewing on my daughter’s shoes. How do I get him to stop?” A: Ask your daughter to put her shoes out of reach of your dog at all times! Dogs smell roughly 200-300,000 times more than humans - so your daughter’s shoes probably release a large amount of delicious ‘smells’. This means that any shoes in the vicinity of a dog are’ fair game’ to be selected for a chew. Your dog doesn’t really understand that your daughter’s shoes are out of bounds so don’t blame the dog, train your daughter!

Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email



hong kong horoscopes

AQUARIUS Jan 21–Feb 19

PISCES Feb 20–Mar 20

ARIES Mar 21–Apr 20

TAURUS Apr 21–May 21

“Why do birds suddenly appear / Every time you are near?” You’re probably standing in the middle of Prince Edward’s Bird Garden, Aquarius. Along this street the old men of the city parade their prized songbirds in ornate cages. Tell me, Aquarius: Would you rather be a dowdy pigeon in the dingy rafters of the city, or an impeccable songbird in a cage? What frames of reference keep you content?

Hong Kong’s happy hours are numerous, and it’s hard to find the best. But just as you’ve found a bar you like, with prices you can accept – rents go up, and so does the cost of your drink. A lesson in ruthless capitalism? No. It’s a reminder that the happy hour doesn’t matter – what matters is happiness itself. Seek it out, and every hour’s a happy hour. Even on Wyndham Street.

The last time I went to karaoke, everyone queued up new songs I’d never heard of before. In the past, I’d complain and skip through them to get my tunes faster. These days, I just go with the flow. After all, you can learn a lot from exposure to things you didn’t know – even if it’s just about the terrible state of 2010s hip-hop.

The Hong Kong habit of donning face masks arose during SARS, as a protection against the deadly virus. But these days, they’re a courtesy: a way to show your co-workers that you’re sick and don’t want to pass it on. What other courtesies can you show your coworkers, Taurus? It needn’t be something huge, but a little gesture will always generate a smile – even if it’s hidden under a face mask.

LEO Jul 23–Aug 22

VIRGO Aug 23–Sep 23

LIBRA Sep 24–Oct 23

SCORPIO Oct 24–Nov 22

We all have our dark days. Days when everything seems wrong. In those troubled times, it’s only right that as a Leo you should summon up the Lion Rock Spirit: the indomitable force that has kept Hong Kong going since time immemorial. Lion Rock watches over Hong Kong, keeping us safe and strong. You can draw on it, Leo, and take strength from it as generations of Hongkongers have before you.

This month, Virgo, I want you to ask a yourself the following question: “Am I a pineapple bun, or a sausage bun?” With pineapple buns, a crusty exterior hides a sweet, softness within. Sausage buns, on the other hand, are soft outside but a stronger core runs through them. Know your place in the bakery of life, and everything will fall into place.

Libra, you’re all about balance. Have you been stand-up paddleboarding recently? Every time I’ve tried it, I’ve fallen into the sea in short order. I bet you’d be better at it than I am: after all, when you find your equilibrium you’re totally capable. But once you do, try paddling while standing on one leg. If you don’t keep challenging yourself, that equilibrium becomes complacency.

Just after giving birth, Hong Kong mothers are advised to eat pig’s trotters slow-cooked in ginger and black vinegar. I may not be post-partum myself, but I confess to loving this dish. Thankfully, I know that there are other Hongkongers who share my tastes. What do you love, despite it seeming unusual? Let the world know: I bet you you’re not alone.

As transmitted to Adam White, writer, editor and occasional soothsayer. 64 | WWW.SOUTHSIDE.HK

GEMINI May 22–Jun 21

CANCER Jun 22–Jul 22

Sometimes, one feels like a wilted bit of lettuce sitting at the back of the fridge, waiting to be thrown out. But the truth is that you don’t need to be discarded. Think of the dai pai dong, where many ingredients are thrown into a wok and pure magic comes out the other end. Gemini, you’re just a stir-fry ingredient waiting for others to come along. You won’t have to wait long.

I was getting a suit tailored recently. It’s an experience I highly recommend: There’s something special about getting a piece of clothing made to fit your body exactly. The only problem, of course – now I need to stay this size, or I’ll have to head back to the tailor for alterations. But that’s fine, Cancer. Sometimes, alterations have to be made. There’s no reason to get too hung up about it.


CAPRICORN Dec 22–Jan 20

The dried seafood shops of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun exude an odour some would describe as “pungent”. But it’s a smell that screams “Hong Kong” to me. What smells do you tie to the city, Sagittarius? Is it the fragrance rising from a dim sum steamer? The diesel fumes of the Star Ferry? Find what makes your memories powerful, and you’ll discover what matters to you.

Wander down Apliu Street and you’ll come across a flea market stuffed full of electronics, from battered old cameras to aging VCR machines and rusty power tools. That old saying seems true: “one man’s trash is another’s man’s treasure”. But in this sea of old TV remotes, what turns you on, Capricorn? What discarded trash is actually gold to you?

Disposal charges

zim city


o promote recycling it is not enough to charge more for waste – the Government must enable efficient disposal, collection and enforcement against fly tipping and landfilling. In April, the charges for disposal of construction waste were raised by the Environmental Protection Department. Landfill charges rose from $125 to $200 per tonne; the sorting charge will increase from $100 to $175 per tonne. The $25 difference is to encourage sorting and recovery of recyclables. The objective of the increase is cost recovery. The construction industry will incur an extra cost of $640 million per year as a result. This is tiny when compared to the overall business volume so I do not expect it to reduce the volume of construction waste. What it will do is provide another incentive for fly tipping and land filling - there is no sight on additional resources or legislative amendments for enforcement teams to combat either of these issues more effectively. Plans are underway to mandate the use of a global positioning system (GPS) on construction waste collection vehicles, but is this enough to combat the illegal disposal of construction waste? It is hard to see how the GPS will stop landfilling. Dumping inert waste on agricultural and conservation land is a development method. It can only be stopped by requiring landowners first to obtain a permit or certificate of exemption. Failing that, they should be held responsible for reinstatement prior to any other development on their land. And if they fail to do so within a time limit, the Government must have the right to enter the land and register the cost of reinstatement against the lease. The only landfilling that should be permitted at all times is when people deposit soil, defined clearly as organic matter, to support vegetation - up to a maximum height of 1.2 metres. Much of the fly-tipping in Hong Kong is renovation waste, small volumes of construction waste, old furniture and fittings. These are

transported in vans and small goods vehicles. From my observation, contractors just want to go home after a day of hard work, and can’t be bothered to drive to the remote landfills and transfer stations. Government should enable the renovators, their staff and contractors to go and see their kids by setting up easily accessible collection points for small volumes of construction waste. Separately, the Government is preparing to charge for municipal waste via building managers and to charge consumers directly with special bags. Unless the logistics of waste handling is better handled and strong enforcement measures are in place, this will certainly result in fly tipping of household waste – whether to avoid the charges, or because someone ran out of bags. For some misplaced privacy reason, the Government does not plan on opening ‘lost’ bags of waste to look for envelopes with addresses or other indicators. But the real solution lies in making it efficient for people to cleanse recyclables and dispose of them separately (in boxes or transparent bags) for sorting. The focus should be on enabling the economy of cleaners, scavengers and processors with spaces for sorting and stockpiling so they can work efficiently to retrieve value from waste.

Paul Zimmerman is the CEO of Designing Hong Kong, a Southern District Councillor and the co-convenor of Save Our Country Parks alliance.









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HS’s Tic Tac Toe

southside secrets...

Hu Shih in 1960.

Shreena Patel goes in search of five monuments that pay homage to the Southside’s literary heritage.


he third installment of this series takes us to St. Stephen’s College, Stanley. Here, a sculpture of the game Tic Tac Toe commemorates the life of scholar and diplomat, Hu Shih (1891-1962). Hu Shih is best known for his contribution to Chinese liberalism and in establishing the Chinese vernacular as the official written language. Born and educated in China, Hu left in 1910 to study agriculture at Cornell University under the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program, which provided for Chinese students to study in the US, though he later changed his major to philosophy and literature. After graduating, he went on to study philosophy at Columbia University, where he was greatly influenced by one of his professors, John Dewey, and the idea of pragmatic evolutionary change. Hu received his doctorate in 1917 and returned to China that same year to lecture at Peking University - a post he held intermittently until the War of Resistance broke out in 1937 fast becoming one of the leading intellectuals of the May Fourth Movement and, later, the New Culture Movement. He gained the support of Chen Duxiu, editor of New Youth, a Chinese journal in which Hu published his Humble suggestions for literary reforms (1917), a contribution to the literary revolution in China which rejected the convention of writing in the classical language in favour of the living vernacular, to make it easier for the ordinary person to read and write. Also in 1917,


Hu married - the girl had been chosen for him many years earlier by his mother. He published his magnum opus, The History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol.1 in 1919, written in vernacular style. Between 1938 and 1942 Hu held the position of the Republic of China’s ambassador to the United States, during which time he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature (1939). He lectured at Harvard University from 1944-5 and then returned to China to serve as president of Peking University between 1946 and 1948. When China’s communist party, led by Mao Zedong, assumed power, Hu left China and eventually moved to Taipei, where he was appointed president of the Academia Sinica (the national academy of Taiwan) and lived until his death. At some point in his life, Hu was invited by the University of Hong Kong to head the Department of Chinese, but he declined and recommended Xu Dishan instead. In 1935, on a trip to Hong Kong, Hu took a tour of the southside and was captivated by the stunning scenery, praising that “Hong Kong should have its own poets and artists to eulogize its fine natural setting”. He particularly enjoyed the sunset over the sea at Stanley, while taking afternoon tea at St. Stephen’s College. Look carefully at the sculpture and you will see that the tic tac toe game is printed with the extracts of Hu’s writing and ideas in the form of a 3D matrix. How to get there St. Stephen’s College, Stanley (on the pavement, opposite St Stephen’s College)


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Southside May 2017  

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