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Mid-levels magazine

July 2017

Family days out in Hong Kong 42 THINGS TO DO


Would you pay $5 million for a parking space?

Holiday haul

What to take on your summer getaway

You are what you eat

Seven spots for healthy food


Mid-levels magazine

The really useful magazine July 2017



16 PEOPLE 4 Snapped! Life around Mid-levels THE PLANNER 6 Happening in July Events for your diary THINGS WE’D BUY 10 Holiday haul What to pack in your suitcase NEWS 12 What’s going on? In your backyard FIVE MINUTES WITH... 16 Raymond Lam Last of the bamboo steamer craftsmen

7 20 44 LOCAL 18 Mad world The sale of a parking space in Sai Ying Pun makes a new world record COVER STORY 20 My big fat Hong Kong day out Things to do this summer for kids, adults and families EATING 32 Healthy bites Where to eat well in the city. Plus Nibbles HOME & LIVING 40 Black and white We tour entrepreneur Diane Younes’ home

42 PICTURE THIS 44 “Gage Street” A painting by Japanese artist, Mitsuko Onodera TRAVEL 46 Cambodia Shinta Mani, Siem Reap HOROSCOPE 50 Signs from the stars Adam White predicts your future ZIM CITY 52 Paul Zimmerman on... Protecting our country parks MY MID-LEVELS 56 Celia Hu The editor-at-large of Foodie on taking a chance on Hong Kong




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Want to write for Mid-levels Magazine? Contact



people Mid-levels snaps


have your say “Do you think Mid Levels’ low rise historic buildings should be preserved?” I think they should be kept because the rent in Hong Kong is really high so some people can’t afford it. The low rise buildings help the community.

- Koala I think it should be preserved because I don’t think transportation can support the high rise buildings. The atmosphere will be destroyed if they remove them. It’s low rise that makes it so chilled and comfortable, you get to see the sky.

- Ricky A lot of the larger buildings tend to be commercial. Even if people are paid to move out, they lose their homes and won’t be able to afford to live in the new building so must move elsewhere. The new residents will be richer people. I don’t think helps the older residents in any way and I don’t think that’s good at all.

- James and Haruko

Definitely think it should be preserved, it’s located in an urban area, I believe history should be kept.

- Andy and Kelly

It is sad because I grew here and I see the transition into high rise places covering the original culture. I do think some tradition should be kept because it’s really rare to find these days. I used to work in Sheung Wan and I’m happy to see the older and cheaper food places are still there.

- Rita MID-LEVELS.CO | 5



Sheko Challenge

Join over 300 sports lovers, parents and kids, locals and expats in Shek O for the annual 2.2km Sheko Challenge Swim or team up with friends to run or paddle, or both in the Trisolothon. The after-party includes beach water polo, barbeque and DJ-spun music. For under-18s, there’s a kids’ beach swim (a 600m loop starting and finishing at Back Beach) - a great introduction to open water swimming. Race starts at 2 pm, Shek-O, Big Wave Bay. Finishes at Shek O Back Beach. To register, visit

JUL 1 Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day Public Holiday

JUL 1 Make America Great Again, Again National Day Party Lily and Bloom is hosting an all-American carnival to celebrate Independence Day (albeit a few days early). Ticket prices include all-youcan-eat and drink BBQ, a hot wings eating contest, face painting, balloon popping and more. $595 for advanced tickets; otherwise $695 for adults and $395 for kids at the door. Day party: 12-5pm, night party: 6-11 pm. Book online at, call 2810 6166 or email 5/F & 6/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street Central,


Mother/daughter mini sports day

Jul 2

Calling girls aged 8-12 and their mums, for a day of fun and games. Organised by Women in Sports Empowered (WISE). Female coaches will lead three mini sessions of field hockey, tag rugby and ultimate frisbee. A great way to try sport, spend time with your mum and make new friends. 10 am-12:30pm, Happy Valley Recreation Ground. To ensure your space, sign up at,

JUL 2 World UFO Day JUL 2 Jazz Sunday with Carl & Alan Maguire + Ted Lo Best known for their modern take on traditional Jazz, brothers Carl and Alan Maguire are joining forces with world class Jazz pianist, Ted Lo. 9pm until midnight, cover charge starts at $100. Peel Fresco, 49 G/F Peel Street, Central,, 2540 2046.

JUL 4, 11 & 18 Yoga on the beach Nighttime beach yoga classes, hosted by Limewood and GuavaPass and led by yoga instructor Lindsay from Krishnan Yoga. After the hour-long beach workout, enjoy a healthy mocktail and sharing meal, which includes Limewood’s signature salmon tartare and more. Held on the first three Tuesdays of the month,

happening in July 6:30pm at Repulse Bay. $390 per person for yoga and dinner. To reserve tickets, email, Limewood, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Shop 103/104, Repulse Bay,, 2866 8668.

JUL 6 Weaning and childhood nutrition workshop In this ESF workshop, certified nutritionist Chrissy Denton shares her top tips on creating a healthy and nutritious diet for children and toddlers. The workshop ends with a tasting session prepared by Ella’s Kitchen. Tickets are $150, available on 7-8 pm, ESF Language & Learning Centre, 183-187 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, 2838 2276,

JUL 9 Sai Kung Sunday Market This monthly, family friendly market brings together over 60 vendors, offering locally farmed organic produce, hand-made apparel, artisanal foods and fine wines. Children can enjoy face painting and cuddles with puppies, while you eat, browse and shop. 11am-5pm, Hong Kong Academy, 33 Wai Man Road, Sai Kung,

Snorkelling at Sharp Island

JUL 13-24 Central Harbourfront SummerFest A series of action-packed sports activities and games for all ages by the harbour. Youth SportsFest, held on July 15 and 16, is specially designed for children to join in games, drills and training workshops run by professional coaches -- including baseball, cricket, floor curling, lion dance and many more. Get active and have fun under the sun. Free, Central Harbourfront, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central,, 3929 9500

JUL 14-16 The Weekend Mentorship Workshop 2017 Aimed at aspiring yoga teachers, seasoned yoga instructor Victor Chau’s

JUL 19 & 122, 6

Explore Sai Kung under the sea. Starts with a sampan ferry ride to Sharp Island, followed by an exploration of the coral colonies. Regular tickets are $290; child tickets at $250. Prices include ferry round trip tickets and use of snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel and flippers). Bring a swimsuit and a towel. Arrive at Sai Kung New Public Pier (no. 7-10) before 2pm. Tickets are available on Visit CountrysideAdventureTours, or call 6053 6076 for more details.

weekend mentorship workshop is designed to enhance your yoga teaching career and boost your confidence. Sign up for individual modules (there are three in total, prices vary) or the full three-day package ($2,200). Anurati, 9/F, 6 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay. Email for more information.

UNTIL JUL 15 Brush inkworks by Satoshi Katayama Emerging Japanese artist Satoshi Katayama’s debut solo exhibition showcases Satoshi’s latest “Water” series. 9:30am-6:30pm, Sin Sin Fine Art, 52 & 54 Sai Street (off 180 Hollywood Road), 2858 5072,

JUL 15-16 International Military Tattoo To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, military bands from the United States, Russia, Scotland, the Netherlands and Mongolia are to join the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Hong Kong disciplined services in a rendition of the Cantopop song, Under the Lion Rock. There’ll also be a free-admission outdoor carnival at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre with family-friendly game stalls. Tickets for the concert start at $150 are available on, Hong Kong Coliseum, 9 Cheong Wan Rd, Hung Hom.


planner JUL 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong Beer and Music Fest 2017 The ultimate Summer street party is back with over 70 booths offering food, beer and interactive games for all ages. Bands of different genres will be rocking all day long while you eat, drink and play. Free admission. The festival runs from 1pm to midnight on 15 July and 1-10 pm on 16 July. Lan Kwai Fong, Central,, 9151 1711.

JUL 19-25 Hong Kong Book Fair 2017 The annual book fair returns with over 450 publications and exhibitors. The fair is divided into eight zones, including English Avenue and Children’s Paradise. Shop, read and enjoy over 300 cultural events and talks featuring

high calibre authors and critics. This year, for the first time, the fair is introducing a theme: Chinese Martial Arts Literature. The genre gained continual popularity in Hong Kong during the 50s-60s, when Chinese martial arts novels started to be serialized on newspapers. Some became so popular that they were re-published as printed novels. Opening hours for each day differs. Tickets are $25 (adult) and $10 (child, morning entry), available at the venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai,

centuries. Highlights include a marble statue of Jean de la Fontaine dating back to 1785 and a painting by Anthony van Dyck from 1617-1619. Tickets are $20 (adult) and $10 (concessions), available at Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Shatin, New Territories,, 2180 8188.

JUL 22 Cabanee Baking Workshop Learn how to master scone-making in this weekend workshop. Enjoy a good cup of coffee or organic tea with your handmade delights, served with the traditional combo of jam and clotted cream. All organic ingredients will be provided. $400 per person, tickets and more information are available at The Mixing Bowl, 23/F, The Pemberton, No. 22-26 Bonham Strand, 2524 0001.

UNTIL JUL 24 Inventing Le Louvre, From Palace To Museum Over 800 Years For once, we don’t have to fly to Paris to admire le Louvre’s impressive masterworks. The collection on display includes artworks from all of Louvre’s departments, spanning hundreds of

JUL 26 The FunnyFellas: Live in Hong Kong The comedy trio FunnyFellas arrive in Hong Kong as part of their world tour. Expect a night of witty jokes, unexpected punchlines and a dose of political satire. Doors open at 8pm, show starts at 9pm. Advance tickets are $200, available on; or $300 at the door. Take Out Comedy, 34 Elgin Street, Central,, 6220 4436.

BOOK NOW SEP 21 Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Tour The world’s hottest pop star Ariana Grande makes her Hong Kong debut this September. Don’t miss the chance to hear the multiplatinum and Grammy-nominated artist’s performance. Regular standing tickets at $888; fanclub members only tickets at $2,188; $4,888 for the ultimate backstage VIP package. Book at 8pm, AsiaWorld-Expo, Arena, 2989 9239.

OCT 15-21 Flex Private Island Retreat Flex Studio has partnered with Cambodia’s

Song Saa Private Island to offer a six-night experience, with daily intensive yoga sessions with Flex’s founders. All-inclusive packages start at US$7,500, excluding flights, alcoholic beverages, scuba diving and spa treatments. Eight spaces available. To book yours, email

NOV 11 Hong Kong Rugby Union Charity Ball

NOV 17-19 Clockenflap Hong Kong’s biggest music and arts festival is back for its 10th edition. The Chemical Brothers, A$AP Rocky, The Libertines and others have all graced its stage. Fan fare tickets are on sale for limited time. $1,280 for a three-day weekend pass; from $740 for a single day pass. Book at Central Harbourfront,

One of the city’s largest charitable and social events. This year’s ball features an all-star performance by a supergroup of world-class rockers - featuring former members of Satana, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steppenwolf and more. Proceeds go to Po Leung Kuk to support underprivileged children through education and rugby training programmes. Cocktails start at 6pm, dinner at 8pm. $2,488 per person or $29,856 for a table of 12. Tickets available on Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai,, 2829 2950.

Got an event? We can publish the details for free. Email 8 | MID-LEVELS.CO


things we’d buy

We’re all going on a summer holiday Things to pack, whether you’re heading to Shek O or further afield… NARS Orgasm Liquid Blush $310 from NARS Shop 1, G/F, Takshing House, 20 Des Voeux Road Central, 2918 9886 (flagship)

Folk embroidered kids’ tunic  390 by Seed Heritage x The Webster $ Folk from Lane Crawford

Jet Set tote - Rattan $1,690 by MISCHA, from at home with kapok PMQ, G/F HG10-12, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2858 8170

Velvet flip flops $250 from Pagoda

Beach reads Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan The bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend is back with a new novel that reveals the long-buried secrets of Asia’s most privileged families and their rich people problems. Go from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a kidnapping at Hong Kong’s most elite private school to a surprise marriage proposal at an Indian palace, caught on camera by the telephoto lenses of paparazzi. $190

My Travel Journal A great way to help kids (and adults) manage and remember a big trip. $100


Mad by Chloe Esposito  lvie’s identical twin A sister dies. When Fate gives Alvie the chance to steal her sister’s perfect life, she starts breaking every rule in the book. $180

Kids shoes $70-149 from H&M

Sorrento Panama Fedora Hat  1,000 from Bella Blu $

All available from Bookazine, locations around the city, including Shop 1, G/F, Oriental Crystal Commercial Building, 46 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2970 3999,

holiday haul

Beach toys

Kaia kimono $540 from Aanya

Foldable bucket in silicone $80 each from Bookazine

Luxe Flamingo Float - Rose Gold $688 from Mirth

Plastic frame sunglasses $169 from Zara 70 Queen’s Road Central, 2903 9500,

Hat case (designed to fit into standard airline overhead lockers and under seats) $800 from Bella Blu

Classic Hamam towel (100% pure turkish cotton and can also be monogrammed) $200-280 (starting 180x100cm) from or visit 3/F Xiu Hua Commercial Bldg, 211 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai

UV Defence Duo (SPF 50, 5-star UVA rating) - Tinted and Non Tinted $280 each from

Swimming trunks  1,400 from MAZU Resortwear ($2,000 $ for the father-and-son bundle)

Liberty print swimsuit with tassel lime $785 from Bonpoint



Free session at Woodland Pre-Schools Woodland Pre-Schools, voted Best Pre-School in the Southside Readers’ Choice Awards four years in a row (2014-2017), is offering readers of Mid-Levels Magazine a free ‘Morning of Fun’ at either of their Peak or Mid-Levels locations. During the morning, little ones will sample this year’s Summer Fun Programme which covers five core areas: arts & crafts, cooking, music, sports, and drama. To register, call your local school directly and bring along this notice to redeem your space. Places are available from July 3 to August 11. Woodland’s Summer Fun Programme runs for six weeks (July 3 - August 11), with one-week enrolments also available. Open to all children aged 6 months to 7 years, it is also available entirely in Mandarin at certain locations. A Summer Sports and Games Programme will also be running at certain campuses. Half-day options are available for both programmes. For information on fees and locations, visit Woodland Peak: 2849 6192 Woodland Mid-Levels (Caine Road): 2549 1211

The Louvre comes to Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Heritage Museum has collaborated with the world-famous Louvre Museum, home of the Mona Lisa, to bring select works to Hong Kong. The exhibition, “Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 Years”, explores the history of the Louvre and its art. Pieces from the collection include paintings, sculptures,


ceramics, tapestries, and more, each from different points in history. Wander the exhibition to see the royal collection of King Louis XIV of France, the contributions of Napoleon I, and other art treasures. The exhibition runs until July 24 and is open every day except Tuesday, with $20 adult tickets and $10 concessionary tickets.

New law to tackle under-age drinking In an effort to curb underage drinking, the government is amending the law on supplying alcohol to under-18s. A study released last year which surveyed minors, found that children as young as 10 were consuming alcohol. Under the new law, retailers selling or supplying alcohol to minors may be fined up to $50,000. The amendment, which covers both face-to-face sales and remote sales (e.g. via vending machines), must undergo three readings in the Legislative Council to become an Ordinance. The First Reading was completed on June 21. Dates have not yet been fixed for the next two. Until now, retailers have refrained from selling alcohol to minors on a voluntary basis. The sale or supply of alcohol in premises without a liquor licence, such as convenience stores, supermarkets and over the internet, is not prohibited by the law. In contrast, the current regulation banning consumption of alcohol by minors in premises with a liquor licence, imposes a fine of up to $50,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment. Retailers will now be obliged to put a sign on their shopfront outlining the stricter regulation; those who fail to comply may be fined $25,000.

in your backyard

The Coffee Academics opens on Staunton Street

The Coffee Academics, known for its globallysourced specialty coffees, has opened its first Roastery Lab in Central. Since the first flagship cafe opened in 2012, the brand has quickly gained recognition, with nine other locations in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. This newest Roastery Lab offers a personalised blending

experience, and visitors can watch the roasting process first-hand. The menu offers everything from a standard latte to hand-dripped coffees, with premium beans from different countries rotating every two weeks. Visit the Roastery Lab at 41 Staunton Street, Soho, Central.

Smuggled goods seized near Lantau Island In a sea chase near Tai O fishing village last month, marine police officers seized boxes of live tortoises and other smuggled goods. Seven smugglers fled on land, and an eighth smuggler eventually abandoned the speedboat after police gave chase. No arrests were made, but police found $3.4 million worth of products aboard the

speedboat, including ten live African spurred tortoises (a protected species), half-finished animal fur and amber stones popular for jewellery. The goods were believed to be en route to the mainland. Call 2545 6182 to report any suspected smuggling to the customs department.

Brew House closes After 13 years of business, popular watering hole Hong Kong Brew House bid adieu to Lan Kwai Fong. The pub, operated by El Grande Concepts, has been replaced by Mexican fast-food chain Cali-Mex. Previously a hot spot for local comedians, live music and quiz nights, it enjoyed a successful tenure, barring an incident between comedian Gary Jackson and an audience member last year, which resulted in Jackson being sentenced to six weeks imprisonment. The Brew House was also one of the first venues to serve craft beer in Hong Kong. As to why it closed, some have cited the importance for bars to update their concepts; others talk of a larger city-wide decline in bar sales as a result of a growing street drinking culture, facilitated by cheaper alcohol from 7-Eleven stores. But figures from the Census and Statistics Department show that in 2016, total receipts of bars actually increased by 1.5 per cent in value and 0.7 per cent in volume compared to 2015. However, the department does not have information on profits which would take into account internal expenses such as rent. Brew House’s closure on June 18 follows that of Club 97, the area’s oldest nightclub, in August last year.

Lego launches miniature Western Market In honour of the 20th anniversary Establishment Day celebrations, Lego has launched limited edition miniature monuments of the city. As part of a city-wide series of Legobased activities and events with the theme Build Amazing Hong Kong, the four limited edition mini-builds include Old Taipo Market Railway Station, Sheung Wan Western Market, the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower and the old Supreme Court building in Central. The kits are suitable for all ages and can only be redeemed in Hong Kong. The mini-builds will be released in stages throughout July and will be available from Cityplaza Cities of Wonder exhibition, Toy R Us pop-up stores, Lego store Times Square, Ani-Com & Games 2017 Lego booth.



Couple circumnavigates Hong Kong Island

Husband-and-wife team, Paul Niel and Esther Röling, took six days to circumnavigate Hong Kong Island by foot. The trek was challenging: they slept on rocks during a black rainstorm, clambered across jagged shores and racked up a few injuries. The couple collected water samples along

the way and - in collaboration with The Open University of Hong Kong and nonprofit group Ocean Recovery Alliance - have used them to create a coastal pollution map. Pollution has long been an issue in Hong Kong, and the couple witnessed it firsthand in their journey, noting dozens of abandoned fridges and dead

PURE Yoga arrives in Pacific Place

Photo by Maxine Yao

First typhoon of the year hits city

2017’s first typhoon hit Hong Kong hard on June 12, marking a squally, dreary and wet last few weeks of June. As the T8 signal was raised, the city went on lockdown from 5:30pm onward. Down in the south of Hong Kong Island, Fire Services deployed eight fire trucks and two ambulances to address a landslide on Tai Tam Road which resulted in no casualties, but a mound of rubble covering an area of 49


fish along the coast. Open University is currently analysing the water samples, to learn more about Hong Kong’s water quality and marine biodiversity. View the map at

square metres. Elsewhere in Hong Kong, some weren’t so lucky. According to the Hospital Authority (HA), although there were no fatalities, at least ten people sought medical attention for typhoon-related injuries. Meanwhile, travellers of around 400 flights were held up at Hong Kong International Airport due to the dangerous weather conditions.

Burberry has closed its doors in the high-end mall Pacific Place, to be replaced by PURE Yoga. The new 10,000 square foot venue, opening at the end of August, will sit alongside premium brands such as Prada and Hermes, attesting to its growing success. Members can choose from over 120 yoga classes every week, covering myriad yoga styles and taught by certified instructors. After a workout or meditation session, bask in the rainforest showers and treat yourself to cold-pressed juice at the juice bar. Learn more at


five minutes with

Mid-levels magazine


Tom Hilditch


Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel Contributing Editor Carolynne Dear Acting Editor Eric Ho Editorial Assistant Trisha Harjani


Design Manager Cindy Suen Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz

Thanks to

Adam White Cora Chan Jane Wong Jennifer Lien Jessie Yeung Lauren Yee Mehul Dhakka Paul Zimmerman Robyn Or Rory Mackay Viola Gaskell

Published by

Hong Kong Living Ltd. Floor LG1, 222 Queens Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Illustrated by Jane Wong

Raymond Lam Ying Hung The fifth successor of Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company talks to Robyn Or about taking on the family business 100 years ago, my great great grandfather started making bamboo steamers by hand in rural Guangzhou. He sold them to villagers in the market. When the business grew, his whole family moved and set up a shop in downtown Guangzhou.



After the liberation of China in the late ‘40s, my grandfather and his family escaped to Hong Kong and resided in Sai Ying Pun, where many Chinese restaurants were located. Our shop was first opened in Centre Street, supplying

bamboo steamers to Lin Heung Tea House, Lu Yu Tea House and Chinese restaurants in the hotels. We’ve sold our bamboo steamers to Europe and America since the ‘70s. After World War II, there was a wave of migration as people looked for better opportunities in foreign countries. Many of them set up Chinese restaurants in Europe and America and they ordered bamboo steamers from us. I decided to quit school when I was 18. At that time life security

was the top concern for everyone, having a stable income was the foundation of living. There wasn’t such a thing as dream job. I learned how to make a steamer from a single piece of bamboo from my father and grandfather by watching and practicing. I might be the only person in Hong Kong who knows how to make a bamboo steamer from scratch. It took three to five years to master the skill. First, one needs to understand the nature and characteristics of bamboo.

a steamy affair

Each piece of bamboo must be of the same thickness, to ensure durability. A handmade bamboo steamer may be used for up to one year, whereas those made by machine deteriorate within six months. There are over 100 steps required to make a steamer. Our bamboo is sourced from Southern China as the growth of bamboo is faster there, given the rain. Bamboo steamers are perfect for dim sum because they are air-permeable, allowing the dim sum to retain its original flavour and moisture while steaming. Also, bamboo has low heat conductivity, so the dim sum can be kept warm for a while. In the ‘80s, metal steamers popped up, but they faded out quickly because they altered the flavour of the dim sum. The bamboo steamer industry is still booming but careers like mine are in decline. No one wants to learn how to make a bamboo steamer by hand because industrialisation has replaced manual work. I would not force my

two sons to take over this business. They are living with the convenience of technology, it is not fair to ask them to go backwards.

I might be the only person in Hong Kong who knows how to make a bamboo steamer from scratch

In the ‘80s, we had to move our production line to the mainland. Now, it is all mechanised, except for the final step (combining the bamboo parts) which is done manually in the shop. Special orders are also done by hand from scratch. We supply

to Saam Hui Yaat, a tradition tea restaurant in Sai Ying Pun and some other restaurant chains in Hong Kong. Nowadays, I find myself busier with paperwork and handling customer enquiries. We moved to Western Street 37 years ago, due to the rise in rental costs on Centre Street. Before the MTR station arrived in Sai Ying Pun, it was just an old district, neglected and disconnected. Now I have more chances to practise my English when foreign travellers visit my shop to buy bamboo products as souvenirs. M



Mid-levels Back up: Sai Ying Pun parking magazine

Sales & Marketing Sales Director Hilda Chan

space sells for $5.18 million Trisha Harjani reports on the property bubble inflating in the Central & Western district

Sales & Marketing Executive Maria Jones Kiran Hiranandani Venus Man Sam Edwards


Office Manager Amanda Chia


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


GIVE US A CALL! Admin: 3568 3722 Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772, 3563 9755

Mid-levels Magazine is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Mid-levels Magazine cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or pubishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.




ast month, Kwan Wai Ming, executive director of Huarong Investment Stock Corp made headlines with his $5.8 million purchase of a parking space in Sai Ying Pun. It was the most expensive sale of its kind in Hong Kong to date and is speculated to be a world record. But here at home, not everyone is surprised. Residents of the city are certainly no strangers to sky high property valuations. According to the 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, Hong Kong is the least affordable housing market in the world, with a median house price of over 18 times the median household income (5.1 and over is considered severely unaffordable). Last month saw a house in

The Upton, the residential space that houses the $5 million parking space

Repulse Bay take the title of world’s most expensive property by square foot (US$21,200 or $165,350); and when Central’s Murray Car Park was put up for sale in May, the tender price hit a record of $23.28 billion.

It was the most expensive sale of its kind in Hong Kong to date

As Mid-Levels resident and car owner, Caterina, puts it, “My experience is that it’s crazy

expensive but there’s no other [the sale] makes me laugh, Hong Kong never surprises me.” As to why the parking space went for such a premium and whether it’s part of a wider trend, we spoke to Dorothy Chow, Regional Director at Jones Lang LaSalle’s (JLL) Valuation Department. Chow attributes the outcome to simple economics: increased demand and reduced supply. “On the demand side, the increase in private car ownership was largely unanticipated,” she says. According to one JLL report, car ownership per 1,000 population increased from 49.5 in 2003 to 71.2 in 2015. “The shortage of supply is due to there being less space allowed for new developments,” she continues.

priced out “Furthermore, in 2011 the government changed the policy on the GFA (gross floor area) exemption. Car parking spaces are now only fully exempt from the calculation of GFA if they are underground.” In Hong Kong, the design and construction of a private development is subject to a maximum permissible GFA. When car parks were exempt from the calculation of GFA, this “spare GFA” could be employed for higher value uses such as residential space. Now, developers must reconsider whether building a car park (either by using up limited GFA to build it overground or incurring the extra time and construction costs of building it underground) is worth it. In some circumstances, where there is no requirement for providing car park under the government lease, developers may decide not to.

Car parking spaces are now only fully exempt from the calculation of [gross floor area] if they are underground

In fact, according to Chow, “we are seeing that for new developments, the number of car parking spaces may not be able to match the size of the development…I would say that Mid-Levels is one of the areas suffering from this problem in addition to other urban areas on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.” Further supply-side factors include the closure or demolition of car parks, including Murray Road Multi-story Car Park in Central and Western District and Middle Road Car Park in Tsim Sha Tsui to make way for higher-yielding commercial premises. “The government thinks that by making it harder to get a parking space, it will reduce demand for private car ownership, but this doesn’t seem to be the case so far,” says Chow. “Prices for parking spaces have just surged. It’s a rather funny situation.” This situation begs the question, “is it worth buying a car in Hong Kong?” Generally, Chow says no. “The resulting ownership costs far outweigh the initial purchase price,” she explains. Caterina is inclined to agree. “I wouldn’t recommend it if you live in MidLevels,” she says. “Our car parking space is included in our rent, but parking outside is expensive. I use public transport more than my own car.” In fact, although Kwan Wai Ming’s purchase gained a traction in both national

The situation begs the question, is it worth buying a car in Hong Kong?

and international media outlets, it is not that much of an anomaly. Space is at a premium throughout the city. “In the Western area, for example developments by Shun Tak, we have seen car parking spaces trading between $2-4

million,” she says. Even at the lower area of the market, in what JLL calls “mass residential areas” (what Chow defines as areas “that do not contain prestigious luxury homes”) Chow’s estimate for a parking space is about $1 million. On the plus side, many Hongkongers enjoy access to a public transport system that is efficient, modern, reliable and much cheaper compared to that of other cities such as Zurich, Geneva, Oslo or London, all of which rank in the top ten for most expensive car parking as well as public transport, as reported by CNN. M


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My big fat Hong Kong day out Sticking around this summer but not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered.

By Trisha Harjani, Cora Chan and Jessie Yeung

ON THE WATER Hire a boat

DIY Water Sports

Try kiteboarding

Hire a junk with friends, take a sampan ride (around Aberdeen Harbour or from Sai Kung to a nearby town or beach) or hop on the Star Ferry for a taste of the past and great views of the skyline. If you want something more thrilling, try Zoom. The brainchild of boating enthusiast and long-term Hong Kong resident Nigel Davis, Zoom specialises in high-speed thrill rides and trips to parts of the territory that are off the junk-beaten track. Zoom’s speciallycommissioned RIB (rigid inflatable boat) was constructed in the UK and holds up to 10 people. The boat’s speed means it can access areas of the territory where junks are unwilling to venture. “So far I’ve captained a couple of kids’ parties, zooming around off Aberdeen and Stanley to give the children some highspeed fun before returning them to dry land for tea. I’ve also organised trips out to Sai Kung’s geopark, Po Toi, Tai O and around Hong Kong Island. It’s been a lot of fun,” says Davis. Trips begin either at Aberdeen or Causeway Bay and venture out to Tai O, Po Tai, Stanley, Plover Cove, Lamma, Sai Kung’s geopark and more. Starts at $500 per person for an hour’s ride. If you have a trip suggestion, get in touch and Davis can work out a package.

Hire your own equipment for water sporting activities from the many government funded water centres around Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Available equipment varies depending on location, ranging from kayaks, sampans and sailing dinghies, to windsurfing boards. The Chong Hing site in Sai Kung also houses a number of land based facilities such as an archery range, basketball court, multi-purpose lawn, campfire and barbecue sites. Sai Kung also has the Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre. Along the Southside, locations include Stanley Main Beach and St. Stephen’s Beach. Note these water centres only rent out to those with the necessary certifications. Centres are open from 8am to 5.30pm. For price and application enquiries visit

If wakeboarding and surfing are too mainstream for you, head on over to the Kiteboarding Association of Hong Kong to try something new. Kiteboarding is a type of wave riding that combines elements of paragliding, windsurfing and wakeboarding. With winds blowing in from the Southwest, March to August weather provides the optimal conditions for beginners and intermediates to learn and develop the watersport. Offering oneday or three-day packages, the Hong Kong Kiteboarding Association teaches beginners and intermediates the basics and provides all equipment. One-day packages start at $2,000 per person at Shui Hau Wan (South Lantau) and Lung Kwu Tan (Tuen Mun)


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Go dolphin watching The Chinese white dolphin (also known as the “pink dolphin”) was first recorded in local waters as early as the 1600s, although the population has been in decline since the mid1990s. Sea Kayak Hong Kong runs a Kayak Dolphin Watching Tour so even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the rarely seen dolphin, you can still have fun on the water. Beginning at Tung Fuk Beach or Lamma Island, a boat takes you westward to the southernmost tip of Lantau Island, where you can paddle around some of the most untouched areas of Hong Kong, to catch a sight of pink dolphins in their natural habitat. Sea Kayak Hong Kong also offers standard tours, including kayaking, around the Northern and Southern coast of Lamma Island. Tours cost $750 per person.

Two Kayakers at South Lamma Island

HONG KONG ADVENTURES Explore Hong Kong’s hidden gems

Go on an action-packed adventure

Visit the flipside of Hong Kong with Adventure Tours: travel back in time to a Hakka village, snorkel in Hoi Ha, boat around the Ninepin Islands or go on a geotour of Plover Cove Country Park. These excursions are a great opportunity for parents and kids to visit Hong Kong’s relatively untouched and unknown jungles while learning about the historical and the ecological pockets within the metropolis. All activities are provided by Adventure Tours and narrated in English. Running from July until November, tours are available in private groups of eight to ten in addition to scheduled group tours. Snorkelling and island tours start at approx. $300 per person.

Kayak into the blue, paddling from waterfalls to villages to the backdrop of Hong Kong’s mountainous horizons. ATeam Edventures offers paddlers a day of kayaking combined with either hiking, canyoning, camping or snorkelling. Tours also include customised trips for the entire family or even a romantic excursion for two. Offering add-on activities such as surfing and stand-up paddleboarding, the tours are flexible and include lunch. Night owls can opt for the Cheung Chau night paddle - a moonlight kayak followed by a tour of the night market where there is a variety of local food and drink on offer. Private one-day booking of kayaks start at $900 per person with a minimum of four people.


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Try a tea workshop Tea is big in Hong Kong, the city even has its own museum dedicated to tea ware (Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware in Hong Kong Park). Discover the different variations of tea, and try your hand at traditional brewing at Quarry Bay tea house MingCha. Alternatively, learn about complementary flavours in a tasting workshop that pairs Chinese teas with chocolate, pastries, and even Spanish hams. MingCha sources tea from farms across China, and hosts a variety of workshops for novices and tea connoisseurs alike. Its newest Japanese Green Tea Workshop is perfect for the the muggy summer, offering Matcha and Sencha along with carefully selected Japanese snacks. Starting from $350 and ranging from one to two hours, the lessons are free for children aged 11 and below.

Go on a food tour They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The same could be said for Hong Kong. The city is packed with over 10,000 Chinese restaurants, noodle shops and street food but it’s not always easy to know where to go and what to order without help. Little Adventures in Hong Kong (LAHK) operates bespoke tasting tours around the Sham Shui Po, Yau Ma Tei and Central and Sheung Wan districts. In 2015, the team was chosen by chef Anthony Bourdain to kick off season 2 of his show on CNN, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.The team all speak native English as well as Cantonese. There are four walks to choose from - each led by a local food journalist, who will guide you through some of Hong Kong’s most historic neighbourhoods whilst you feast on traditional dishes such as roast duck, dim sum, wonton noodles and congee.


Mini Chef at the Mixing Bowl

Tours are conducted daily and start at US$115 an hour, per person, for a minimum of 3.5 hours and include selected food and drink tastings at six venues. LAHK also hosts basic tours around Kennedy Town on Thursdays and Wanchai on Sundays for 2.5 hours starting at $888 per guest; or custom-made, private tours in an area of your choice.

mint gelato. For gorgeous beach views and a glimpse of a bygone era, munch on raspberry tarts by open bay windows at The Verandah ($308, Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay), formerly the Repulse Bay Hotel.

Treat yourself to afternoon tea There’s nothing like escaping the heat for a relaxing afternoon tea, a long-standing Hong Kong tradition. For an iconic setting with music, soaring arches and classic architecture, try The Peninsula ($368/person, Salisbury Road, TST) with plate upon plate of pastries, finger sandwiches, and English scones. There are many other hotel options, including the Sheraton Hotel ($258, Nathan Road, TST) for a panoramic harbour view; the InterContinental ($578, Salisbury Road, TST) for its excellent smoked salmon sandwiches; the Mandarin Oriental ($298, Connaught Road, Central) for its signature rose-petal jam; and the Four Seasons Hotel ($275, Finance Street, Central) for its fresh

Harbour Views at The InterContinental

Classic Tea Set at The Peninsula

Take a baking class Put your aprons on this summer and learn to bake everything from French macarons to Hong Kong-style egg tarts at The Mixing Bowl in Sheung Wan. Founded by Hongkonger Victor Lo and primary school teacher Kyle Giesbrecht, The Mixing Bowl offers classes nearly every day in Sheung Wan, focusing on new dishes every time. Learn how to measure, mix, knead and shape your culinary creations. All classes are between two to three hours, and start at $400. Alternatively, the Patsy in Wong Chuk Hang offers adult and kids baking workshops including a summer baking boot camp, themed workshops and the option to hire out for parties. Classes last between two to three hours, and start at $960.;

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First ever sculpture park living concept unveiled in Clearwater Bay

Clear Water Bay’s Rebounds (2015) by Jean-Michel Othoniel


ew World Development continues to lead the way in creative property development with “Mount Pavilia”, a new sculpture park living concept in Clearwater Bay. Inspired by the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, it is the first of its kind in the area. Mount Pavilia is the latest low-rise architectural project to be unveiled as part of “The Artisanal Movement”, a group initiative pioneered by art entrepreneur Adrian Cheng, which aims to unite audience and artisans in a creative collision of appreciation and enrichment. In the 80’s, sculpture parks such as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Chicago’s Millennium Park, and Japan’s Hakone Open Air Museum gained international repute, becoming symbols of cultural status, city development and quality living.

Now, The Artisanal Movement brings the concept of the sculpture park to residential living, combining art and nature in everyday life. Set in a “secret garden” measuring approximately 270,000 sq.ft., Mount Pavilia’s sculpture park contains four sculptures (created by Gao Weigang, Kum Chi Keung, Tatiana Trouvé and Jean-Michel Othoniel), each one a representation of the sculptor’s interpretation of “home and family”. Accessibility is key: residents can touch, hop on, dive through and even lie on the art. Another architectural showpiece is the White Yard, designed by internationally renowned Korean architect Minsuk Cho, the 2014 winner of the Venice Architecture Biennale Golden Lion Award. Streamlined, with plain colours, exposed brickwork and curved glass panels, it harnesses the natural light and blurs the boundary

Home by Gao Weigang

between indoors and outdoors. There are two parts to the White Yard: White Yard Club and White Yard Gallery. The former is the biggest clubhouse in the Pavilia series and contains a wide range of recreational facilities, including a children’s play area approximately 17,000 sq.ft. in size. Ever dedicated to showcasing the artisan spirit, the top floor of the gallery houses “chi art space”, which exhibits from time to time different kinds of art and crafts for the community to enjoy. At Mount Pavilia, the concept of home is realised not just in the residences, but also in art, culture and nature. This is a curated living space for those who dream of a contemporary lifestyle centred around home and family in a natural environment. For more information, visit

Bespoke craftmanship by Korean architect, Minsuk Cho


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Make a day trip to Disney

Go ice skating

The magic of Disneyland is sure to capture the imagination of little ones, although parents should be prepared for crowds, queues and high temperatures. Throughout the summer months, there will be parades running up and down the Main Street, fairies prancing around and Jedi training hosted in Tomorrowland. For those brave enough to make more than one trip, avoid paying the general admission ($589) and buy the annual pass instead (starts at $619). If you don’t fancy a trip all the way to Lantau, there’s always Magical World (Granville Road, TST). This Hong Kong-meets-Disney 4D experience, formerly known as the Hong Kong 3D Museum, uses augmented reality technology, sounds, smells and special lighting effects to create an all-round sensory experience. Tickets are $168 for adults and $120 for children aged 3-11. If you’re a party of twenty and up, fill in a form on the website for a group offer.,

Escape the heat and take little snow angels out onto the ice for a magical day of ice skating at one of Kowloon’s shopping centres: Elements ($0.5-1.5/minute); MegaBox ($50-80/session); Festival Walk ($55-60/hour); or Dragon Centre ($40-65/session). Alternatively, stay on the island at Cityplaza Ice Palace ($55-70/hour) in Tai Koo Shing. Mega Ice (located in MegaBox) is the largest ice rink in Hong Kong the only internationally sized rink in the city. If you’re looking for a party venue, most locations are hireable for little penguins to zoom around on birthdays, summer parties and more.


Eat at a themed cafe Take kids to indulge in Hong Kong’s obsession with all-things-cute. Dotted all over the city are animal and cartoon themed cafes. Brighten up your dim sum with a little Hello Kitty on Canton Road in Jordan or surround yourself with Snoopy-inspired decor at Charlie Brown cafe in TST. Alternatively, make some new furry friends

at Cat Store in Causeway Bay or OnDogDog Cafe in Ho Man Tin, which are home to a resident group of cats and dogs, respectively.

Visit Ocean Park This summer, Southside’s very own theme park Ocean Park presents its annual Summer Splash, running from July 1 until August 27. Specifically, the park has been decked out in a retro theme and - on top of the standard rides and activities - has commissioned what is the largest sand sculpture in Hong Kong, created by internationally acclaimed sculptor Ray Villafane. If all this seemed regular enough, thousands of rubber ducks have also appeared, in celebration of the park’s collaboration with Hong Kong’s toy success story, LT Duck. Admission starts at $219 for children aged 3-11 and $438 for adults. On a side note, get ready for Ocean Park’s Water World, set to open in the second half of 2018.

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Get cultured in Soho’s galleries

Try stand-up-paddle-boarding Take an art tour With over two hundred galleries freckled around yoga Dee Cheung and Nadine Bubner invite you to swap your planned retreat for a day-treat doing stand up paddle boarding yoga. Train your muscles to achieve the ultimate balance by getting bendy on the water. SUP Hong Kong is offering regular classes for those looking to learn the basics of yoga on the water at Stanley Bay on either Saturday or Sunday through July and August. If you like what you find, keep an eye out on Facebook for the retreat to Ishigaki, Japan in September. 90 minute classes are priced at 500 HKD including class and board rental.

Do aerial yoga on the beach Join yoga studio Bamboo Yoga for a full-day workshop, starting with an aerial yoga class at Yoga Bam Bam in Central (learning several Vinyasa inversions and poses on hammocks), followed by a hike to the silvery sands of Tai Long Wan beach, where students will employ their newly-gained aerial yoga skills on bamboo tripods. The mid-air suspension increases flexibility and strengthens the core, allowing tension to leave the body. If you’ve tried aerial yoga before, sign up for the half-day workshop, which omits the class in Central (meet at the pier instead to go straight to Tai Long Wan). Beginners welcome for the full-day session. Full-day session ($720): July 2, 9, 16. Half-day session ($520): July 1, 8, 15. Book online at

Hong Kong, choosing which ones to visit can be difficult. Thankfully, a number of companies have put together curated art tours of the city - a great way to meet like-minded people while discovering new art. The most popular districts for browsing art are Soho and Wong Chuk Hang. Here are a few options to get you started: Accidental Art Accidental Art runs a number of tours, including the Soho Gallery Tour. Narrated in Mandarin or English, it meanders through a selection of galleries showcasing sculptures, paintings and photography by Chinese and international artists. Yan Gallery and Parkview Art Gallery are always included on the tour, but exhibitions change approximately every six weeks. Currently, the Yan Gallery is showcasing minimalist ink paintings by Chinese artist, He Wei until July 9 while the Parkview Art Gallery is featuring a mixed collection headlining

An Accidental Art guided tour

French artist Amélie Ducommun until the end of August. Tours run every Saturday until September 30 ($265 per person). If you’re more interested in street art, try the Central Street Art Tour. Learn about the artistic masterpieces tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Soho - discoverable by many but known by few - and enjoy a day out in the Hong Kong sun. The experts will show you gorgeous yet fleeting pieces, hung one day and gone the next, some of which have been valued at up to $2 million. The featured exhibition this month is a Chinese artist solo exhibition at Teakha House (Sheung Wan) that will be standing from July 7 till the end of August. Weather permitting, the tour starts at G.O.D, 48 Hollywood Road and takes twelve curious souls around SOHO for an hour guided in Mandarin or English. Runs every Sunday until September 24. Costs $165. Oneoff events also include #EatwithART on July 8, a lifestyle afternoon experience in SOHO and an Art talk “Why Art” at Parkview Art Gallery in Central on July 15, 2-3:30 pm. Book online at South Island Cultural District (SICD) Visit Hong Kong’s growing arts hub in Wong Chuk Hang, home to the South Island Cultural District (SCID). Created in 2013, the SCID is a group of nearly thirty art galleries, studios and non-commercial spaces. Explore artwork from both upcoming and renowned artists. A must-see this summer is the Fereydoun Ave at Rossi & Rossi gallery running until July 29. Ave is an iconic Iranian artist who uses large printed quilts sourced from Tehran as a canvas for his paintings. For information on the organisation and upcoming events, visit


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Clean up a beach

Watch a movie

Get creative at Art Jamming

Every summer sees a flood of new movies, and this season boasts everything from superhero flicks to war dramas. Watch newlysolo musician Harry Styles’ acting debut in Dunkirk, a gripping tale of the WWII Battle of Dunkirk, arriving July 20. Written and directed by filmmaking giant Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk looks to be as darkly suspenseful and emotionally complex as his previous successes. Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite teenage superhero gets a re-make in Spider-Man: Homecoming, in cinemas July 6. This latest addition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will feature other well-known superheroes, such as Tony Stark and Captain America. If you’re in the mood for a raunchy comedy, catch Rough Night, in which a wild bachelorette weekend goes horribly wrong. Releasing on July 27, the cast includes Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon. There are a few cinemas around Hong Kong, including PALACE ifc (Finance Street, Central), AMC Pacific Place (Queensway, Admiralty), Broadway Cyberport (Cyberport Road, Telegraph Bay), The Grand Cinema (Elements, Kowloon - for vibrating seats) and UA iSquare (Nathan Road, TST - for the IMAX experience). For an old school theatre experience, try Golden Harvest Grand Ocean (Canton Road, Kowloon).

At Artjamming, visitors can sit down and paint for hours. The studio provides all the necessary equipment, so all you need to do is put on some music and let inspiration strike. The Wong Chuk Hang venue boasts both a garden terrace and an indoor studio, open six days a week. Catering options and projector screens are available on request, making it a great option for parties and events. Buy a gift voucher for a friend, or book a private session by calling 2541 8816. Prices start at $250 and vary according to canvas size.


Go bowling Thunder Bowl ($30/game, Whampoa Garden, Kowloon) is one of Hong Kong’s first public bowling alleys, it offers cafe snacks, fluorescent lights, a billiards room, and bowling lessons for beginners. With over 300 shops and restaurants in Whampoa Garden, you have plenty of options for food and entertainment right outside the bowling alley. Members of the South China Athletic Association (Caroline Hill Road, Causeway Bay), the Ladies Recreation Club (Old Peak Road, ML), the Hong Kong Club (Jackson Road, Central) and the Hong Kong Football Club (Sports Road, Happy Valley) are in luck, for these private club memberships include access to their bowling alleys and other athletic facilities.

There’s no time like summer to dive into the cool ocean, but Hong Kong’s beaches and waters are drowning in rubbish. Make a difference by taking part in the 2017 Cleanup Challenge. Last year, over 80,000 people took part. Participation is easy: choose a team (of friends, colleagues, family, classmates, community group), a date, and a location for your cleanup, and complete the registration form online. Once your team is registered, you will be invited to a briefing to meet other teams and learn about having a safe, fun, successful cleanup. The registration fee starts at $150 per person for a group of up to five.

Walk a dog If you’re a dog person, make some canine friends this summer at Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR). HKDR saves abandoned and unwanted dogs, placing them into foster care and adoptive families. As a non-profit organization, HKDR relies on volunteer dogwalkers and donations, so make your way to the Tai Po and Ap Lei Chau Homing Centres, home to their 600 dogs. No experience is required, only an application fee, orientation session and a trial shift. Outside of dog walking, volunteers can also help plan events, do administrative work, and fundraise, all vital to support the organisation. Only volunteers aged 18 and above are eligible. Find out more at

Pathfinders Hong Kong is home to over 300,000 migrant workers, some of whom face abuse, neglect, and even trafficking. Pathfinders provides vulnerable migrants with legal protection, education, healthcare, and other critical services. There are many ways to get involved; volunteers can work with migrant children during education workshops, distribute supplies and clothes, provide pro bono medical care, and more. Volunteers can also join awareness and outreach campaigns by distributing information around Hong Kong. To sign up, visit


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Hike along Tai Long Wan to enjoy gorgeous horizon views

Take a hike There are many hiking routes in Hong Kong. For our favourites in Sai Kung, see The Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay Hiking Guide (available online for $210 at and at select Bookazine stores). In the meantime, here are a few options, on and off the island: 1. Enjoy the lush trails and ocean views on the Tai Long Wan Hiking Trail, wrapping around the bay and winding past several coves. Start your hike at the Sai Wan Pavilion, accessible by village bus 29R from Chan Ma Road. Cool off mid-hike at Sai Wan Beach, then enjoy refreshments at Ham Tin Wan. You could end here by taking a boat back to Sai Kung Pier, or keep hiking past the Chek Keng cove and end at Pak Tam Au, where you can take a bus back to the Sai Kung town. This hike around the island-dotted bay takes four to five hours. 2. For something more challenging, try the Lai Chi Chong. Starting at Pak Sha O and ending at Shui Long O, the six-hour hike follows Sai Kung’s western shore. Along the


The Tai Long Wan hike overlooks Ham Tin Wan Beach

way, snap photos of the coastal volcanic sedimentary rocks and Sham Chung’s open grasslands. 3. Hong Kong Island offers hiking trails of every difficulty level, starting with the classic Dragon’s Back. Everyone’s go-to hike, this relaxed 3-hour trail starts at To Tei Wan and ends at Big Wave Bay, twisting through the Shek O Country Park. The soaring peaks

offer views of Shek O, Stanley, Tai Tam and the South China Sea. If you feel like tackling the Hong Kong Trail, Section 1 offers a meandering 2-hour hike from Victoria Peak to Pok Fu Lam Reservoir. Start at the Peak Tram Station on Lugard Road, hike past the Peak’s mid-slopes, and enjoy the flora on the Native Tree Walk. Take in the western landscape on the Lung Fu Shan lookout, before finishing at Pok Fu Lam.

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Wan Tsai South Campsite

Spend a night under the stars Here are a few options to get you started: 1. Set in the northern part of the Sai Kung peninsula, Wong Shek is conveniently located by a bus stop and includes basic amenities including barbecue pits, toilets, sinks and potable tap water. 2. Those wanting a workout and gorgeous sunrise should hike up the Ma On Shan trail to Ngong Ping campsite where the unobstructed horizon provides a true getaway from Hong Kong’s chaos. Toilet pits and occasional stream water are present. Look out for cows. 3. If you want the best of both worlds, a magnificent view with minimal effort, head to Wan Tsai. The one-kilometre walk is a breeze and opens up to two campsites that boast picturesque views of the Wan Tsai peninsula. Handicap facilities are available plus easy access to snorkeling sites and fishing spots. 4. For activities and nearby restaurants, head to Pui O beach on Lantau Island (ferries run

Pack a picnic from the Central Piers), an extremely popular camping site with buffalo, a great beach bar/ restaurant (Mavericks) and other facilities. You can pay to book a spot on Treasure Island HK’s private campsite (treasureislandhk. com) or on the Leisure and Cultural Services Department website ( 5. Even further south and quieter than Pui O although within close reach, Lo Kei Wan campsite on Lantau Island has barbecue pits, dry toilet pits and seasonal stream water. Aside from the beaches, southeast Lantau holds woodier campsites such as the Nam Shan campsite with optional hiking trails. 6. For HK islanders wanting to stay local, head to the Tai Tam branch of the Scout Association of Hong Kong for a campsite boasting numerous activities for little ones including rock climbing, pioneering, archery. It’s also furnished with a canteen, basketball court and a campfire circle (

Grab your lunch-bags and fill ‘em up with pinwheel sandwiches, lemonade and your favourite book, before heading to the park to bask in the sun. Great options include the Hong Kong Park next to Cotton Tree Drive or the Zoological and Botanical Gardens next door. If you opt for the latter, don’t forget to pay a visit to the meerkats, monkeys and more. Popular sites along the Southside include Tai Tam Country Park and the beaches at Shek O and Big Wave Bay - all three have free, first-come first-served barbecue pits where you can cook your own food. It can be hard to snag an open space on weekends, but you can also reserve an unlimited barbecuing time at some privately-run pits, such as Liu’s Barbecue on Shek O Beach ($400). For Sai Kung and the New Territories, check out Sham Cheung which also boasts a few village stores, mangroves, an astronomical observatory and an abandoned village. Alternatively, check out Pak Tum Chung’s grassy patches or Tai Mong Tsai’s barbecue pits to get a taste of life in the countryside.


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Hong Kong Maritime Museum at Central Pier

Hong Kong Museum of History What: The museum’s permanent exhibition, The Hong Kong Story, brings to life thousands of years of Hong Kong history, from the prehistoric era to the Opium War to the handover to China, through dioramas and life-sized exhibits. In eight sprawling galleries, look out for artifacts from ancient dynasties, a modern tram, and get a taste of the old Hong Kong by strolling through a reconstructed street complete with a barber, bank, post office and grocer. There is even a Chinese medicine shop which was relocated from its original location stone by stone. Where: 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Contact: 2724 9042, Admission: Free for permanent exhibitions and for children aged 4 and below. Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat, Sun and public holidays: 10am-7pm; closed Tue


(except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year

to be a seafarer. A special exhibition about the infamous Chinese pirate Cheung Po Tsai runs until October 8. While you’re there, make sure to swing by Cafe 8 for a cup of coffee and enjoy one of the city’s best views of the harbour. Where: Central Ferry Pier No. 8, Man Kwong Street, Hong Kong Contact: 3713 2500, Admission: $30 adult, $15 concession Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am-5:30pm; Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10am-7pm

Hong Kong Railway Museum What: Hidden in the vibrant Tai Po Market, the charming open-air museum is converted from the former Tai Po Market railway station. The museum is declared a city monument, dedicated to introducing visitors to Hong Kong’s rail history. Travel back in time to colonial Hong Kong by walking on the rail tracks, getting on board and taking pictures in the authentic train compartments. Where: 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po Market, Tai Po Contact: 2653 3455, Admission: Free Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Sun: 10 am-6 pm; closed on Tues (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year

Hong Kong Maritime Museum What: Since its relocation from Murray House to Central Pier No.8, the museum has become a favourite among locals and travellers alike. The interior is divided into three decks with 10 galleries dedicated to exhibiting 3,000 years of Chinese maritime history. The newly installed ship-bridge simulator is a highlight for children to get a taste of ship-steering and what it’s like

Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum

Photo by Hong Kong Railway Museum

Riding the waves of the third Muse Fest HK, a variety of special activities and exhibitions are taking place across the city’s museums from June 24 - July 9, including film screenings, behind-the-scene tours, exhibits from The Louvre and the British Museum and many more. | MID-LEVELS.CO 30 The majority of Hong Kong’s museums are bilingual, easily accessible by train or ferry and offer cheap admission and an air-conditioned break from the steamy hot weather as well as educational insights. Many offer free admission one day a week (typically Wednesdays) and interactive exhibits that are great for children. They cover a surprising range of fields, from history and art to considerably more niche interests such as 3D art and correctional services. We’ve hand-picked nine of the best for you to explore.

What: Formerly accommodation for married staff, the building now houses 10 galleries displaying the evolution of Hong Kong’s penal system over the last 170 years. Exhibits include prison records, artifacts from Vietnamese migrants, two reconstructed cells and an array of gruesome equipment used for corporal punishment, including a mock gallows. Where: 45 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley Contact: 2147 3199, Admission: Free Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10am-5pm; closed Mon and public holidays

Hong Kong Heritage Museum What: Permanent exhibitions include the Cantonese Opera Heritage Hall, which showcases a reconstructed bamboo theatre as well as items once used by famous Cantonese opera artists. The Children’s Discovery Gallery transports little ones to the depths of the sea, archaeological digs and a traditional New Territories village. Newly added to the permanent exhibitions is the Jin Yong Gallery, a zone specifically dedicated to the works of celebrated martial arts novel author Dr. Louis Cha. As part of the Museum Festival

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Photo by Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences

Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum What: Discovered by workmen during a construction project 60 years ago, this 2,000-year-old tomb dates back to the Eastern Han dynasty. Peer inside the tomb and learn about the period from which it dates through videos, maps and photos as well as a gallery featuring the objects found during the excavation, including pottery and bronze wares. Fun trivia: the site of the tomb once overlooked the seashore, but after a series of land reclamations, now lies almost 2km from the sea. Where: 41 Tonkin Street, Sham Shui Po Contact: 2386 2863, Admission: Free Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm, closed Thu (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year

museum’s latest permanent installment. Where: 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Levels Contact: 2549 5123, Admission: $20 adult; $10 concession; $50 family pass Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun and public holidays: 1pm-5pm; closed Mon and the first three days of Chinese New Year *Enjoy unlimited access to these museums with a museum pass (adults pay $50 for six months). Family and concession passes also available. See

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence What: Set in a British fort now over a century old with beautiful views of the Lei Yue Mun channel, this museum offers a fascinating insight into Hong Kong’s military past, from the Ming and Qing period, to the British colonial era and the Japanese occupation. Take the historical trail through the casemates and passageways to the sea, and explore the array of artefacts on display, including uniforms, maps, cannons, replica torpedos and guns. Where: 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan Contact: 2569 1500, Admission: Free Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm (until 5pm from October through February), closed Thu (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year

3D museums Need a change of perspective? Take a closer look at these museums which showcases the art of optical illusion through 3D artwork and interactive exhibits. Magical World The first 4D museum in Hong Kong. 1/F Hilton Place, 96 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2721 9720, Trick Eye Museum Part of a global chain first launched in South Korea. Shop No. 1, 3/F, The Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak, 2813 1686,

Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences What: Housed in the Old Pathological Institute, this was the battleground of the city’s fight against infectious diseases, including the plague, smallpox and malaria. Explore the old laboratory of the Bacteriological Institute, Hong Kong’s first clinical and public health laboratory, and see a reconstruction of students dissecting rats for plague surveillance. Visit the Herbalist Shop in the basement to find out about traditional Chinese medicine: look at the tools and specimens on display and learn about how different treatments were made. Learn more about the complex workings of the human body with cutting-edge 3D and 4D display in the

will be on display until October 18. The touring exhibition, Eternal Life: Exploring Ancient Egypt, will display the mummies like you’ve never seen them before, with a 3D visualisation made possible by computerized x-ray scanning. The British Museum’s Egyptian collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind outside Egypt. It includes sculpture, architectural pieces, mummies and other relics. Where: 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. Contact: 2732 3232, Admission: $20 adult; $10 concession; $14 group ticket; free admission on Wednesdays Opening hours: Mon-Wed, Fri: 10am-7pm; Sat, Sun and public holidays: 10am-9 pm; closed on Thurs (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year

Hong Kong Science Museum What: Boasting over 350 interactive exhibits, the museum encourages visitors to engage in hands-on exploration of the mystery of science. With over 500 exhibits, ignite your child’s curiosity with games, digestible bites of fun facts about electricity, earth formation, motions and many more. There is also a children’s gallery/ play zone providing further entertainment. Six Egyptian mummies and over 200 valuable exhibits borrowed from the British Museum

Photo by Kelvin Leung

programme, a special exhibition showcasing selected masterworks from the world-renowned Louvre Museum will run until 24 July, whilst an exhibition on Hong Kong Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee is also open until 2018. Where: 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin Contact: 2180 8188, Admission: Permanent exhibitions are free. For special exhibitions, $20 standard; $10 concession. Opening hours: Mon, Wed-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sun and public holidays: 10am-7pm; closed Tue (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year



You are what you eat The city’s nutritious and healthy food selections.

Grassroots Pantry Healthy living and achieving wellness are at the core of Grassroots Pantry’s philosophy. Chef Peggy Chan founded Grassroots Pantry five years ago to support eco-conscious practices and complement particular dietary needs. Sustainable, organic and locally-sourced ingredients are used to create wholesome dishes like soft-shelled maki roll, signature mixed mushroom linguine and Moroccan tagine stew. The restaurant utilises clean lines, muted colours and tropical plantations to complement their food and to give the restaurant a homey feel. Shop D, G/F, CentreStage, 108 Hollywood Road, Central, 2873 3353,


eat well, feel well

Peggy Chan of Grassroots Pantry When did your passion for food start? Since I could possibly remember, food was always the topic that took centre of attention. Eating always drew upon stories of my parents' childhood, or history and origins of the food source and sometimes a joke or a dare around it - like a balut, tabasco contest. What is your favourite ingredient to cook with? Mushroom. All kinds. What is your favourite dish to eat? Rather difficult to choose just one! Hand-made pasta - anywhere. Shows the skills and heart of a chef to make pasta by hand, and then to cook it to perfection.


What is the worst thing to happen to you in a kitchen? Anytime I work myself to the bones (literally) and my sciatica or old injuries return. That's when I know I can no longer work in the kitchen until I let my body rest for a few days. What would you be if you weren't a chef? A psychologist, an environmentalist or a practicing nun in a monastery. One thing to advise to an amateur chef? Let go of your own ego. That's the only thing that will stop you from achieving mastery.

Kasa Central Set in a two-storey space on Wellington Street, Kasa works on the concept of convenient healthy takeaway with a sit down area on the second floor. Kasa offers a MSG-free, vegetable-centric menu that is based on contemporary Cantonese flavours. The team changes the menu regularly to keep things fresh but the sweet potato noodles with sauteed shiitake mushrooms and onsen egg is a popular favourite. Plus the team blends as much local and raw ingredients as possible in their beverages. Long lines can be seen at Kasa during lunch hour so get in early. G/F, 61 Wellington Street, 2868 6864,



3/3rds Perched on top of an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang, 3/3rds is a cafe serving all things fresh and healthy. The cafe has a cosy and rustic ambience, and is filled with couches and wooden furniture. The menu changes regularly with the likes of salads, sandwiches soups and pizzas, plus a variety of cakes and pastries. The team has welcomed a rooftop garden where they can grow their own herbs to

Sweetpea Cafe Newly opened Sweetpea Cafe is a cute little spot of gluten-free goodness. Sweetpea Cafe, hidden on the steps of Shin Hing Street has a quaint vibe with wooden decor and high chairs for the kids. Co-owner Angela Hon started with humble beginnings, baking for friends and family, and has now made her dreams come true with a permanent spot for her savoury and sweet offerings such as acai berry bowl, breakfast tartine, and their ‘not-your-ordinary scrambled eggs’. With different egg- and dairy-free selections available each week, Sweetpea’s macarons, cakes and donuts are delicately decorated and if described in one word, pretty comes to mind.


G/F, 4 Shin Hing Street, Central, 3689 7269,

ensure freshness of the ingredients used in their food. The rooftop is also open for customers to dine alfresco during service and can be hired for events. 22/F, Unit 22D, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, 3462 2951,



Home Eat to Live Located in a comfortable and homey two-storey space on Des Voeux Road, the decor reflects its name completely - to feel at home. The restaurant sports wooden and earthy furnishing with sofas and long communal tables. Serving plant-based cuisine and employing eco-friendly practices, Home Eat to Live aims to inspire Hongkongers to take on a healthy lifestyle. Using organic ingredients as much as possible, produce is sourced from a web of local farms to create nutritious salad bowls, soups, wraps, desserts and more. Shop G01 & 101, 77 Des Voeux Road Central, 2777 4777,

The Elephas Extending health and wellness into likeminded individuals’ lifestyle, The Elephas, brings wholesome healthy food to Hong Kong. Situated inside Warrior Academy, a training facility, gym junkies can indulge in anything from fully raw, gluten-free snacks and everything in between. The menu has Asian flavours and sees the likes of a salmon burrito bowl, home-made healthy pastries, and nutritious smoothies. The Elephas also has a dedicated coffee bar with beans from Vietnam, India and Indonesia and a special The Elephant Blend. Shop 118, 1/F, Hong Kong Plaza, 188 Connaught Road West, 2838 3979,

Green Common Following a plant-based diet, Green Common hopes to inspire a holistic and sustainable lifestyle in their guests. Located on 1,000 sq ft of space the restaurant can accommodate up to 50 people. Made up of superfoods, the Rainbowl includes quinoa, kale and blueberries. Otherwise, try the Hainan Runaway Chicken and the Soba So Good for something more substantial. Green Common also offers a Superkids menu, which include Freeing Nemo, a Gardein fish burger and a kid-friendly Rainbowl - the Magic Rainbow. There is also a green store where diners can purchase all the superfood ingredients.


Shop OT G61, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, 3102 1220,



Dining news

What not to miss this month

Hablas Español? After a few delays, the new, larger Picada is now open. The pan-Latin restaurant has moved to LKF29 on Wyndham Street, with a cosy terrace overlooking the nightlife below. Acclaimed Peruvian chef Abel Ortiz Alvarez, formerly of Chicha and Mayta, heads up the new kitchen team and brings together a selection of iconic favourites: think Peruvian ceviche, Argentinian steak, Colombian arepas, Venezuelan empanadas, Mexican tacos and more. After all, a “picada” is a type of sharing platter. Open for lunch, brunch and dinner. After dinner Picada opens up its polished oak dance floor to regular live music, dance performances, and guest DJs. If you’re not much of a mover, head upstairs to the terrace lounge on the third floor. To celebrate its opening, Picada is hosting a month of special shows featuring the band Chris Polanco and Azucar Latina, live salsa classes and performances and Latin house Djs on the terrace. Visit for details. 2F & 3F LKF 29 Building, 29 Wyndham Street, Central, 3425 4037.

for free-flow alcohol and $68 for free-flow soft drinks).G/F, 29-31, Chatham Road South (entrance at Hart Avenue), Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, 2723 9833.

Ciao Chow launches summer brunch Neapolitan pizzeria Ciao Chow has launched a brunch just in time for summer. Enjoy four hours of brunching for $280* (add $150 for free-flow drinks). Feast on an antipasti buffet, limitless madeto-order pizzas, pasta and a carving selection of wagyu beef, pork loin and Pollo alla Cacciatora (a classic Italian chicken dish). Don’t forget to leave room for dessert. Available weekends from 12-4pm. G/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2344 0005.

Gough’s on Gough opens

Alzina Spanish Asador opens in TST A new Spanish restaurant, Alzina Spanish Asador, has opened in Tsim Sha Tsui. The restaurant’s delicious weekend brunch, “Viva La Vida!” features an extensive semi-buffet menu featuring hot and cold tapas, from spicy chorizo in sherry wine, to patatas bravas, frittatas, salads, olives, cheeses and more. Choose one of eight main courses (including Crispy Suckling Pig and Grilled Octopus with Chimichurri Sauce). Finish off with a dessert platter, complete with churros and chocolate sauce, creamy caramel pudding, Spanish style baked cheesecake and more. $298 for adults and $118 for children aged 3 to 11 (add $128


British-inspired design brand Timothy Oulton has opened a restaurant on Gough Street. The restaurant - a first for the brand - serves modern British cuisine and specially crafted cocktails, while the interior showcases a range of materials and textures, combining traditional craftsmanship with contemporary flair. 15 Gough Street, Central, 2473 9066,

Runway Hong Kong opens in Central You’re craving Vietnamese but your friend’s craving Indian? Worry not, Runway has you covered. This new restaurant and bar recreates the cabin of a vintage airline, while the menu

allows you to “travel” to your destination of choice. Drinks are playfully categorised with funky titles such as ‘Turbulence’ (choose from 6 to 32 shots) and ‘Priority Landing G&Ts’ (thematic spins on gin & tonics). Likewise, food is crafted according to destination including Hong Kong’s “Crispy White Fish Fillet”, Vietnam’s “Chicken Bahn Mi”, Turkey’s “Wing Flaps Pide Beef” and more. Located in the heart of Central, it’s a perfect drinks getaway for the night. Shop B G/F Carfield Commercial Building, 75-77 Wyndham St, Central

Restobar Fang Fang opens in LKF Contemporary Asian restaurant and bar, Fang Fang, has opened its doors in Lan Kwai Fong. Inspired by a fictional Chinese opera singer, it features sleek black interiors and an array of modern Asian dishes like crisp roasted duck with caviar, short ribs, Chilean sea bass and sushi rolls. The kitchen is headed by Kent Lee, former Executive Chef of Hakkasan Mumbai, who applies his creative spin while keeping the essence of traditional recipes alive. A range of exotic Asian-inspired cocktails is also available, created by Bar Manager Gagan Gurung, formerly of Zuma Hong Kong, as well as premium wines, sakes and rare whiskies from around the world. 8/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street Central, 2983 9083. Email,

A juicy murder Newly launched entertainment events company Harbour Secrets specialises in murder mystery dinners and mystery-themed events for private and corporate clients in Hong Kong. The company has partnered with various dining venues around the city from Causeway Bay to Mong Kok to Soho to The Peak. Its events offer flexibility with a range of add-ons including personalised venue set-up, costumes, make-up artists, video and audio recordings of hostages. A thrilling addition to Hong Kong’s dining scene.


home & living

Black and white Lauren Yee finds a touch of minimalism in Mid-Levels, inside the home of Diane Younes, founder of mobile beauty service, Sponge Photography by Karin Karas


ormer New York based lawyer Diane Younes set up her first business, Sponge, just four months after arriving in Hong Kong last year. Providing professional, on-demand and on-location beauty services to individuals, companies and events, Sponge has built partnerships with international beauty brands such as Amika and Benefit Cosmetics. This month we take a peek into Diane’s 900 square foot apartment, an uncluttered sanctuary on a quiet street just a few steps away from Soho.


Tell me about yourself. I am originally from Paris, but grew up in London. I studied in Montreal and spent nine years in New York. I consider myself a New Yorker. Why did you choose to live in Mid-Levels when you moved to Hong Kong? I wanted to be in the midst of Hong Kong without being too close. I also noticed that the need for a service like Sponge was extremely high in Mid-Levels; a lot of our clients live here. It made sense to pick a

the simple life

neighbourhood where I could understand our clients better. What were your priorities when looking for a home in Hong Kong? An open plan apartment with modern finishes and a view. And big windows to get lots of light – a rarity in Hong Kong! Apartments tend to be small here, but I wanted to make sure that the apartment didn’t feel small. What are some of your favourite places in Mid-Levels? Elephant Grounds on Caine Road is a great place for a meeting or a catch up. Nosh on

Road. There is something quite charming about those two streets.

I’m a quick shopper, I don’t like to waste time...I signed the lease within one week of moving here

Robinson Road is my go-to when I don’t have time to cook. And I love to take a stroll on Chancery Lane and the beginning of Bowen

How would you describe the interior design and style of your home – what influenced your design choices? Modern and minimalist with a few pops of colour. There’s so much going on in Hong Kong, so I like to come home to a space that is simple with no clutter. Where do you enjoy shopping for homeware and furniture? I’m a quick shopper, I don’t like to waste time in stores. I signed the lease within one week


home & living of moving here from New York, bought all of my furniture and decor in one day and moved in the next! I love Indigo Living and H&M Home, they have some great items. What are your favourite items in your home? My aunt’s Hamsa from Lebanon since it has sentimental value - I have a lot of things from Lebanon, it’s where my father is from. My ‘The Little Black Jacket’ book by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld because I’m a big fan of Coco Chanel. And my personalised GIVENCHY New York Fashion Week invitation that has the coolest art. Those are the only items I took with me when I moved to Hong Kong, in addition to my clothes!

I have a lot of things from Lebanon, it’s where my father is from

What is your favourite space in your apartment? Our dining table, because that’s where I tend to work from. I have had some of my proudest moments for Sponge there. It’s also where the Sponge makeup artist and hairstylist set up their tools and products to get me ready for my day as I answer emails! What’s the one thing everyone should have in their home? Laughter. Without that, it’s not a home. What advice would you give to someone who’s just moved into Mid-Levels? You’re going to love it. Being able to view the entire city - day and night - is such a treat. Whose home in Hong Kong would you like to take a sneak peek around and why? I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a sneak peek in anyone’s home! For more information on Sponge, visit M



picture this


a thousand words

Painting of the month: Gage Street by Japanese artist Mitsuko Onodera

60 seconds with the artist. Describe yourself if three words. Intuitive. Balanced. Funny. Where do you live? I was born and grew up in Yokohama, and now I live in Tokyo, Japan. How long have you been painting? My mother was a painter. As I child I remember watching her paint, she looked so nice. So I decided to become a painter, like her. Now I’ve been painting for 35 years. I studied painting in oils in Tama Art University. While I was a university student, I got several illustration jobs from publishers. What’s your connection to Hong Kong? I first became interested in Hong Kong because of the wonderful artist, Mr. Leslie Cheung. I love it here and visit often. I have provided many paintings and illustrations of the city for guide books and magazines in Japan. I am also an ambassador of the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau Tokyo and I’m studying Hong Kong home cuisine.

My mother was a painter. As a child I remember watching her paint, she looked so nice

What are you trying to show? I want to show the beauty of the red colour of Hong Kong and invoke a sense of nostalgia. Where would you like to paint next in Hong Kong? Anywhere! Especially old buildings and people, like in Sham Shui Po, for example. Where can we find more of your paintings? M

How would you describe your style? Humorous, with delicate brushwork and a warm touch. I mainly paint in watercolours. I love to paint Hong Kong townscapes, to show the lives of people and the culture of the city. What’s the story behind this picture? Every time I walk through Gage Street, I am amazed at colourfulness and liveliness of the fresh food market. Here I can feel the history of Hong Kong people’s local lives. I always wonder how many people have walked around here. And there is also my favourite place, Lan Fong Yuen!

Have you painted Hong Kong? Each month we feature a painting of Hong Kong and a 60-second interview with the artist who created it. If you’d like to be featured, email



SHINTA MANI RESORT Callum Wiggins heads to Siem Reap for a relaxing break


rriving in Siem Reap can be a hot and humid affair. While the relatively new airport receives visitors with ease (minus some unfortunately long queues at immigration) it doesn’t take long for the heat of a Cambodian afternoon to make you perspire. Thankfully, a haven of leisure and luxury is just a short air-conditioned car journey away.


Greeted on arrival with warm smiles and a much-needed cold towel, the welcoming reception at Shinta Mani sets the tone for any guests lucky enough to have booked a stay here out of Siem Reap’s growing number of luxury (and not so luxury) hotel options. The Shinta Mani actually has two properties. The Shinta Mani Resort is the larger of the two with 62 rooms and two

Junior Suites and makes for a slightly cheaper option. The Shinta Mani Club is a more intimate choice with 39 luxury rooms and features its own private pool, a spa and Khmer-style fine dining restaurant, Kroya. Situated just across the road from each other, guests at Shinta Mani Club are welcome to use the slightly larger pool facilities at Shinta Mani Resort. While there is little to separate

long weekend

the two hotels, couples seeking a more intimate and quieter getaway may opt for the Club while families with young children may find the Resort more suitable. It doesn’t take long before you come to recognise the friendly faces and learn the names of the exemplary Shinta Mani staff. What more could one need when relaxing by the pool in a sun lounger with a good book? How about an ice-cold lemongrass tea to beat the heat? That’s taken care of by attentive pool-side staff. How about a midday snack after a quick dip? The pool-side staff have already kindly put the menu on the

A team of masseurs grace the poolside...providing free massages

table by your lounger. A brisk shoulder and neck massage would be heavenly right now. Well, you’ve guessed it, a team of Shinta Mani masseurs grace the poolside with their

presence and nimble hands, providing free massages. Feeling relaxed yet? This kind of sterling service is the reward of Shinta Mani’s own investment. Beginning its community activities in 2004 with the creation of the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality, the school has gone on to train underprivileged Cambodians on a free-of-charge basis in world-class hotel operations and has since supplied the hotel not just its own staff, but also served the wider community in providing a highly-skilled workforce. Transforming into the Shinta Mani Foundation in 2011, the not-for-profit


travel organisation now focuses its programmes in three key areas - education, healthcare and small business start-up. In fact, the small queue of tuk-tuk drivers outside the hotel, ready to take guests anywhere around the city for just a few dollars, are all beneficiaries of the small business start-up programme. While Siem Reap and Cambodia itself is still striving to implement economic development and rid the shackles of poverty, it’s heartwarming to see a locally-owned business like Shinta Mani take such proactive steps to give back to the community.

It’s heartwarming to see a locally-owned business... give back to the community

Siem Reap is undergoing something of a tourism boom and the development that comes with such an influx of tourists is evident on any journey around the town. Gleaming new luxury hotels line the roads leading from the airport, expensive restaurants serving international fare dominate the centre of town and a large-scale shopping mall is currently under construction just a stone’s throw from the royal residences. Hotels and businesses catering predominantly for mainland Chinese tourists are also becoming increasingly evident as Siem Reap capitalises on the world’s fastest growing tourism market. Located away from the city of Siem Reap itself, and the primary reason for any tourist’s visit, is Angkor Archeological Park. Stretching over some 400-square kilometres, the area is vast and most tourists only venture


long weekend

to a few temples before calling it a day and heading back to their poolside haven, and with good reason. Any walk around the temples and grounds can be long and exhausting, while navigating hordes of tour groups and finding the perfect selfie spots can be equally draining. My advice is to pick a reputable tour operator (we chose Beyond Unique Escapes whose Angkor Uncovered tour starts from $32, and to let a knowledgeable local guide plan your temple tour leaving you plenty of time to take in the fascinating sights (and someone else to take the photos). The tour, which lasts roughly five to six hours, explores the Ta Prohm temple where ancient stones and giant tree roots are fighting a centuries-long battle, the globally-famous Angkor Wat temple and the mystical Bayon temple renowned for its statues with many faces.

Finding the perfect selfie spots can be equally draining

One interesting quirk is to observe the tour groups led by local Cambodians and marvel at the number of different languages the various tour guides are able to accommodate. We witnessed young guides fluent in all the major European languages as well as Japanese, Korean, Russian and Chinese. The world has truly discovered Angkor and the locals are rightly proud and eager to showcase the UNESCO World Heritage site.

The next day in Siem Reap is dedicated to discovering more of the local culture, but this time from the comfort of the air-conditioned Shinta Mani. A cooking class led by the Kroya chefs is fun and a great way to learn more about the local cuisine. A visit to the spa to indulge in some treatments based on traditional Khmer healing rituals is the perfect way to relax during the afternoon. A guided-tour to the night market lets us explore the bustling city after the sun has set and a few bargain souvenirs make their way back to the hotel. Before the long weekend of my stay at Shinta Mani comes to an end, there is only thing left to do. A poolside lounger has my name on it and an ice-cold lemongrass tea awaits. I keep an eye out for the poolside masseurs and I plan my next trip back to charming Siem Reap.



hong kong horoscopes

AQUARIUS Jan 21–Feb 19

PISCES Feb 20–Mar 20

ARIES Mar 21–Apr 20

TAURUS Apr 21–May 21

Confucius, he say: “There is no better thing than faith in one’s own dreams.” Deep, right? Oh wait. I just made that all up. Sorry. Beware the false quote, Aquarius. After all, as Confucius really did say, “Don’t look to others for your wisdom: make your own instead.” Wait, no he didn’t. I made it up as well. Make sure to verify what you hear: after all, it could be total rubbish.

Summer days, drifting away! If you’re on a floatie on a junk, that’s great news. If you’re just letting life pass you by, however, you might want to start paddling. Summer is a time of lazy relaxation – but there’s no better time to start that hobby, open that business, ask out that crush. You’re no driftwood, Pisces. Don’t let yourself be caught up in the current.

What a good month it’s going to be for you, Aries. I just know it. Riches upon riches will be heaped upon you. It might not be in terms of Chow Sang Sang golden piglet necklaces, however. You might have to look elsewhere for those riches. Is it someone new entering your life? Is it a couple of amazing nights out? My guess is that you’ll know it when you see it.

Freddy the Weatherman has been a fixture on our TV screens for at least three decades. TVB’s animated prognosticator is known for his “ahhhs” and “awwws” depending on the weather. It’s good, sometimes, to boil down our emotions to the basics. Try to channel Freddy the Weatherman, Taurus: are you feeling ahhhh or awww right now?

LEO Jul 23–Aug 22

VIRGO Aug 23–Sep 23

LIBRA Sep 24–Oct 23

SCORPIO Oct 24–Nov 22

Leo, you’re a chatty kind of person. But which kind of chatty? Are you the goodnatured wet market stall owner, ready with a kind word for all? Or are you like my former neighbours, constantly yelling at each other after 20 years of marriage? Try for the former, if you can. And if it’s the latter, please don’t move in next to me.

Steady sailing is a wonderful state of affairs, Virgo. When the seas are calm, it’s easy to settle in for the ride and be lulled to sleep by the gentle motion. But what if you’re sailing in the wrong direction? Sure, you might have boarded the fast ferry to Lamma. But maybe it’s 2am and you’ve jumped on board a slow boat to Zhuhai. Check, just to make sure.

When I’m feeling a little aimless, sometimes I’ll take a walk through the streets of Wan Chai. It’s probably my favourite bit of Hong Kong, a wonderfully dense area where every side street hides something worth examination. Failing that, there’s a couple of really great char siu rice shops, as well. Libra, I highly recommend seeking out the solitude of crowds: It gives you space to think.

Consider, Scorpio, the humble wonton. A mix of shrimp and pork, wrapped in a square dumpling skin. Boiled in broth and served alone, or with noodles. It’s not fine dining, certainly: But I’d choose it every time over a Michelinstarred molecular seafood foam. Why? Because to me, a simple thing done well far outshines any complex concoction. Extend that rule to your life, Scorpio. Become the wonton.

As transmitted to Adam White, writer, editor and occasional soothsayer 50 | MID-LEVELS.CO

GEMINI May 22–Jun 21

CANCER Jun 22–Jul 22

Skin whitening cream is big business in Hong Kong. They call it mei bak – “beautiful white”. I’m not the first to remark upon the fact that Asians want to be whiter, while Europeans always want to look darker. It’s a sad irony that we always want what we don’t have. Gemini, I’m not going to tell you to jettison your desires. But I will ask you to look at them and evaluate them. Skip the beautiful and white for the beautiful and right.

Summer has well and truly set in, and sticky humidity has become a constant, damp companion. At this time of year, most of us scuttle from air-con to air-con, avoiding the oppressive heat. I say: embrace it, Cancer. A sweltering Hong Kong summer is something to cherish. Don’t cut yourself off from life’s rich tapestry – even if that tapestry’s gone a little mouldy.


CAPRICORN Dec 22–Jan 20

Have you been lucky at the races, Sagittarius? Perhaps you headed to the Jockey Club on Wednesday and won big on an amusingly named nag. Congratulations! What will you do with your winnings? My recommendation: Take half, and spend it on something special for yourself. But take the other half, and spend it on something or someone that matters – a lover, a child, a charity. Keep it all in balance, and it’s not just you who wins.

When Hong Kong airport was based at Kai Tak, the approach to the city was one of the most hairraising in the world. Pilots flew perilously close to the buildings of Kowloon, making a steep right turn just 200m above ground. I think we’ve since lost the thrill of air travel, Capricorn. I want you to rediscover it as you fly out on your summer holiday. Thrill in the very nature of flight.


Looking for land

zim city

The latest green issues affecting our city.


e need a new way to discuss land supply options. The government has invited a developer, the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS), to study the development potential of two areas extending into Tai Lam Country Park and Ma On Shan Country Park – one near Pat Heung and the other near Shui Chuen O. But surely we should first agree the rules. Country parks are a special asset of Hong Kong. Any decision to make them smaller must be taken very carefully. We have a law for creating parks. We have a law for managing parks. But we do not have a law that says how to cut parts off a country park. We can learn from another special asset: Victoria Harbour. To reclaim land, you must prove that there is a public overriding need, that there are no reasonable alternatives and that only the minimum is taken away. The same can be agreed for country parks, with one additional rule - zeronet loss. This requires another area to be added as compensation. In 1995 we did exactly this to build Route 3 to Yuen Long. Instead of digging a road through Tai Lam Country Park, we limited the damage by building a tunnel. Only two hectares were lost for the approach road and an area of around 40 hectares was added to the park elsewhere. In 2003, the extension of the Tseung Kwan O landfill was carefully planned to have minimal impact on the Clearwater Bay Country Park, and land was added elsewhere as compensation. But this time, developers are being invited to consider country parks when there are sites ready for development nearby. Why? The Planning Department completed a land use review of Kam Tin South and Pat Heung in 2015. It identified opportunities for the development of at least 33,000 residential units on top of and in the vicinity of Kam Sheung Station and the Pat Heung Maintenance Centre. There is also an abundance of “abandoned


‘Save Our Country Parks’ rally on 28 May 2017 at Tai Lam Country Park

agricultural land” along Kam Sheung Road now used for open storage, temporary carparks and other brownfield uses. And next to Shui Chuen O is a large green belt area which could be studied. All these sites have good access to rail and road. Why have they not been offered to HKHS for a development study, before the country parks? The other issue is the study brief. The government instructed the developer to use ecological and landscape values as criteria. This makes no sense. Country park areas near existing developments suffer noise, light and traffic, but they buffer the rest of the country park. Accept these criteria and we will be forever eating up country parks until no park is left. Carrie Lam in her manifesto promised to establish a task force, steered by professionals, to engage stakeholders and the community on a macro review of our land supply options. Green groups have written to Lam and asked her to rescind the invitation to HKHS and set up the task force as soon as possible. We need a more equitable, fair and sustainable process for discussing land supply options. Green groups consist of regular people who suffer the same problems as everyone else. Yet, they recognize that our country parks are a unique asset which should be safeguarded for future generations. M

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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Happy Birthday

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The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the People’s Republic of China took place on July 1, 1997.

It rained. A lot. Depending on your perspective, this was viewed either as a cleansing of the territory, or as the gods expressing their sadness.


The British laid claim to what is today Hong Kong in 1898 when the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory gave the UK control of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon (south of Boundary Road) and the New Territories (north of Boundary Road to the Sham Chun River, plus outlying islands).

The Basic Law, a mini-constitution, was drafted with the participation of Hong Kong people and formally promulgated in 1990.

The ceremony took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and was attended by the Chinese president and premier Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, the first chief executive of Hong Kong Tung Chee-hwa, Prince Charles, departing governor Chris Patten and British prime minister and foreign secretary Tony Blair and Robin Cook. It was later claimed Prince Charles described the event as “The Great Chinese Takeaway”.

Things you need to know A Handover special

On July 1 Hong Kong celebrates 20 years as a Special Administrative Region of China. Here’s everything you need to know about Establishment Day


Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded to the UK in perpetuity, the New Territories on a 99-year lease. But 99 years later in 1997, it was deemed impractical to separate the three territories and so all three were returned to China.

After the Union Flag was lowered, Prince Charles and governor Chris Patten and family boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia at Tamar and sailed to the Philippines.

Welcome to the Phillippines!



The theme for the 20th Anniversary of Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is Together, Progress, Opportunity. There will be fireworks on Victoria Harbour at 8pm, best viewing opportunities include TST Promenade, Central Harbourfront Promenade or Bauhinia Square, Wan Chai.

Photo by Dan Marsh via Wikimedia Commons




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