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December 2017

Merry Christmas, Hong Kong! Where to eat, what to do

Docked and loaded Life on a luxury yacht off the Gold Coast

Ribbon House

Award-winning architecture in Repulse Bay

Presenting... The Boxing Day Challenge

A Southside Christmas tale


The really useful magazine December 2017

47 30


35 53




4 Snapped! Southside’s social life THE PLANNER 6 Happening in December What’s on NEWS 22 What’s going on? In your backyard GIVEAWAYS 24 Free stuff Fab things to win FIVE MINUTES WITH... 26 Ariadna Peretz Hong Kong’s newest matchmaker LOCAL 28 If at first you don’t succeed... Plans to build a hotel in Stanley have resurfaced

30 Harrow International School Rebecca Simpson takes a tour HOME & LIVING 34 The “Ribbon House” Award-winning architecture in Repulse Bay HK ADVENTURES 36 Stella So heads to... Shau Kei Wan COVER STORY 38 The Boxing Day Challenge A Southside Christmas tale EATING 46 Eat, drink and be merry! Christmas meals and dinner parties made easy. Plus turkeys

LIFE & STYLE 52 Deck the halls Fab decorations and Christmas trees THINGS WE’D BUY 56 Have you been naughty or nice? Gift ideas for him, her and the kids HEALTH & BEAUTY 60 Party prep On-demand beauty services BIG DAY OUT 62 Sharp Island An escape from Christmas fever. Doable by dogs, moderately fit grannies and kids INTERVIEW 64 Sytske Kimman On sailing, Hong Kong and living on a yacht

HOROSCOPE 70 You will meet a tall, dark stranger Adam White reveals what lies in store for you ZIM CITY 72 Paul Zimmerman on… What a district councillor actually does PETS 74 Ask Dr. Pauline Holiday hazards for pets MRS BACKFIRE 80 Does Hong Kong make you softer or harder? Mrs Backfire opines



Find us on Facebook Southside Magazine




Vivian Uhlir

Jennifer Deayton

Vasavi Seethepalli this month’s cover artist. Vivian is Arts & Illustrations Editor for EUScience Magazine and a freelance illustrator for projects that promote creative narratives, STEAM, and environmentalism. You’ ll often find her playing water sports or immersed in the latest indie video ga mes. See her work at a writer, editor and filmmaker. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines and regional anthologies. She currently enjoys introducing her daughters to gangster movies, but—in a distinct change of genre— this month she writes about the time Santa’s reindeer holidayed in the Southside (pg. 38). See her work at

...illustrated this month’s cover story, “The Boxing Day Challenge”. As a n artist living in Hong Kong, Vasavi has explored every area of the city, incorporating most of what she has observed in her art: the vibra ncy, the people, the smells, the culture—even Horizon Plaza (see our February issue)! Check out her work at artby-vasavi. com

Want to write for Southside Magazine? Contact



people Snaps from Southside


have your say “What’s on your Christmas wish list?”

A spa day.

- Anita


- Kenneth

A white Christmas.

- Cecile

Time with family and our newly adopted puppy!

- Scotia

To have my family all together.



Carols, concerts and shows


Christmas Carol Concert Appeal

Join the festivities with drinks, canapés and carols to benefit the Society for Community Organization. This event will be their sixth annual carol concert. Tickets range from $600 to $2,500, visit 6:30-8:30pm. Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Central.

DEC 1 11th Annual Community Carols

Classics for Kids Christmas Concert

The Hong Kong Singers is the longest established theatrical group in Hong Kong. Over the years it has presented productions from Mendelssohn’s Elijah to West End and Broadway classics, and every year it goes on a carolling tour of Hong Kong, performing from the beginning of the month until Christmas. Free admission. 7:30pm start. Lan Kwai Fong Amphitheatre, Wo On Lane, Central.

The SAR Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual interactive concert introduces children to classical music and lets them try out the instruments too. The fun and games run from 2:15-5pm, Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai. Tickets from $295 at, 3128 8288.

DEC 1-2 Father Christmas An adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ children’s book Father Christmas by theatre company ABA Productions. Watch as Santa makes the final preparations for his annual night of deliveries—a festive treat for those under 6, with live music and playful puppetry. Tickets from $335 to $435 at Five performances across two days. Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, HKAPA, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai.


DEC 3&10

DEC 1-28 3D Pulse Light Show at the Harbourfront A series of holiday themed light shows in eight-minute blocks, on display each night from 8:20-9:40pm. The Hong Kong Culture Centre and Clock Tower. No ticket or entrance fees.

happening in December DEC 10 Christmas Lessons and Carols by Candlelight

DEC 24 Midnight Mass and Family Crib Service

Head to St. Stephen’s Chapel for festive songs and carolling to get the whole family into a Christmas-y mood. 6pm. 22 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley.

Reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. For the kiddies who can’t stay up for Midnight Mass, there will be a crib service for young families with carols earlier on the same day at 5pm. Midnight mass starts at 11pm, St.Stephen’s College Sports Ground, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley.

DEC 16-17 & 23-26 The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker

DEC 7, 14, 21, 28 The Pete Kelly Trio The STUDIO has quickly become one of the most popular places for live music in Hong Kong. Pete Kelly and his band have come from Australia and will be playing live jazz every Thursday till April 2018. He plays ballads, classical jazz and new contemporary covers. To book a table, email 1/F On Hing Building, No. 1 On Hing Building, Central.

Brought to you by the Hong Kong Ballet. Follow the magical adventures of Clara, Fritz and the heroic Nutcracker in their quest to defeat the evil Rat King and reunite true love. Tchaikovsky’s timeless score will be accompanied live by Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Prices from $180 to $1,000 on Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

DEC 31 New Year’s Eve Join hundreds at the harbourfront to watch the fireworks display and welcome in 2018!

DEC 19- 26 Scrooge! The Musical Adapted from Charles Dickens’ famous work, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre brings us Scrooge! The Musical. The show is presented in Cantonese but the songs are performed in English, with both Cantonese and English subtitles. Prices range from $85 to $350. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Scrooge!



Markets and fêtes


St. Stephen’s Chapel Annual Christmas Fête

Join the festivities with drinks, canapés and carols to benefit the Society for Community Organization. This event will be their sixth annual carol concert. Tickets range from $600 to $2,500, visit 6:30-8:30pm. Helena May, 35 Garden Road, Central.

DEC 1 Discovery Montessori Academy Bazaar

DEC 1 Bradbury School Winter Night Market

DEC 1 Quarry Bay School Christmas Fayre

Enjoy Christmas plays and musicals presented by the kids as well as Christmas carols from the school choir. Plus Santa’s Grotto, a Rumple & Friends Show, bauble decorating, a raffle and oodles of stalls selling food, drinks, crafts, books, gifts and Christmas fruits. 9am-1pm. 92 Siena Avenue, Discovery Bay North.

Local vendors, international food, games prizes and more. No parking available (a regular shuttle bus will operate from Central and the Cricket Club). Entrance fee is $30 per person, $100 per family. 5:30-8:30pm. 43C Stubbs Road.

Hosted by the Quarry Bay School parents. Expect multiple food stalls with delicacies from around the world, all lovingly prepared by the parents—plus game stalls, special performances and a lucky draw. Tickets are $10 per person. 6-8pm. 6 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, North Point.



planner 10am-4pm. German Swiss International School, 11 Guildford Road, The Peak.

DEC 2 Il Mercatino Charity Fair DEC 2 FIS Christmas Fair

DEC 2 GSIS Christmas Bazaar

Expect Christmas shopping, lucky draw games, refreshment stalls and more. Don’t miss the homemade cakes on offer at the famous Café Jardine, as well as other surprises. 10am-5pm. Visit for more details. FIS Primary School campus, 34 Price Road, Jardine’s Lookout.

Enjoy a taste of authentic German Swiss festivities with games, a Santa’s grotto, booths selling ornamental wreaths and more, plus plenty of traditional food such as raclette and Stollen. Parking is not available, but the school will be providing free shuttle bus services to and from Central, Pok Fu Lam, and Southside.


Hosted by the Italian Women’s Association. Browse Italian food and wine, branded clothes, toys and accessories, sportswear, plus an Italian gourmet corner. $20 entrance fee; attendees are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags. Funds raised will help projects at the pediatric The Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital, 12 Sandy Bay Road. Onsite parking is not available, but the Cyberport carpark is nearby.

happening in December Prestige Christmas Showcase at the Conrad

DEC 2&10

Over 350 pop-up stalls and brands from around the world to solve your gift-buying woes. If you prefer a more opulent environment to street fairs, this is for you. Browse the best of fashion, gourmet food, homeware, children’s products and more within the luxury of the Conrad. Participating stalls vary by date. Shoppers are eligible for a 15 per cent VIP Prestige Shopper Discount when dining at the Garden CafÊ or Lobby Lounge. Free admission, 10am-6pm or 8pm. Visit for the list of vendors. Grand Ballroom, Conrad, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway.

DEC 2-3 LUMP Christmas Ceramics Market Get your hands on original ceramic pieces for unique Christmas gifts this season. Over 40 ceramic artists from Hong Kong and abroad will be showcasing their pieces, with fun demos held throughout the two days. Only cash purchases accepted, entry is free. Noon-7pm. LUMP Studio, 11A, Gee Luen Hing Industrial Building, 2 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang.



DEC 3 Christmas Southside Market and Long Lunch Hosted by the Butchers Club Secret Kitchen. Head down with the kids and friends for a buffet lunch, best holiday jumper competition, lawn games, live music, face painters and a variety of F&B vendors. Little Picasso Studio will host a series of arts and craft workshops throughout the day for the kids—sign up on arrival. Guests past the age of 4 need to purchase all-you-can-eat tickets for $250. Free flow wine or beer is available at extra cost. Noon-4pm. Enter through 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen. Visit

DEC 5 ShoppingHongKong Holiday Bazaar A selection of jewellery, luxury pashminas, ladies fashion, unique accessories, gourmet foods and more. A free glass of chilled prosecco will be served to all guests. Email shoppinghongkong@ to be added on the entry list, as this event is only open to members of the American Club and their guests, or those who RSVP. 10am-6pm. Vista Ballroom, The American Club Tai Tam, 28 Tai Tam Road.

DEC 9 SISHK Xmas Fair Expect a vibrant bazaar with 44 retail stalls, food and beverage stands, games and prizes, and a flea market. Visitors are to buy cash coupons for use at activities, but vendors


at the trading stalls will also accept cash payments. Free entry. 10am-4pm. Singapore International School primary school campus, 23 Nam Long Shan Road, Wong Chuk Hang.

DEC 9-10 AND 16-17 Stanley Plaza White Finnish Christmas Market For two consecutive weekends starting December 9, Stanley Plaza will be transformed into an authentic Finnish market inspired by the St. Thomas Christmas Market, one of the oldest of its kind in Finland. Browse over 80 festive white timber-framed stalls, see the Glass Dining Dome, and enjoy traditional Finnish food and mulled wine. There will also be an interactive zone

where guests can watch an aurora VR show in an igloo and experience a Finnish jacuzzi. Performances include Santa Lucia, Finnish folk dance, Christmas carolling, and a Nativity play. There will be free shuttle buses from Ocean Park MTR, Shau Kei Wan and Aberdeen on the event days. Noon-8pm. Stanley Plaza Amphitheatre & Public Open Space.

DEC 10 Discovery Bay Handmade Sunday Market The DB Sunday Market will have many stalls filled with handmade products – perfect for unique Christmas presents. 11am-6pm, Discovery Bay Main Plaza.



Festivals and carnivals

DEC 21-FEB 25

AIA The Great European Carnival

This year’s offering is filled with rides and roller coasters, game stands for all ages, plenty of food stalls, live music and performances, as well as the famous Gandey European Circus staged in a 1,200 seat big top circus tent. Central Harbourfront event space. Tickets can be bought online at or on site.

Hong Kong WinterFest


Organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board, WinterFest consists largely of a range of seasonal displays spread across several landmark buildings. Worthy of note is the Christmas tree at North Statue Square in Central, and also the two dazzling multimedia shows: A Symphony of Lights and the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show. Soak up the festive spirit and uncover new Christmas delights such as special shopping offers and festive menus as you roam the city.


UNTIL JAN 1 A Disney Christmas Disneyland has been transformed into a magical winter wonderland for the holidays. Enjoy shows and events such as Mickey and Friends Christmastime Ball, and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The restaurants within the park and hotels have added more than 70 items especially for their festive menus. In addition, from now until December 22, Hong Kong residents can sign up for the Double The Fun offer for two entries on or before December 23 for $639. 10:30am-8pm. $419 for child tickets, $589 for adults and $100 for seniors. For more details, visit

Up the Night ceremony at the Park’s signature 40-foot tree with a choir performance. Kids can also participate in the interactive Whiskers and Friends Winter Games at Whiskers Harbour. Ocean Park, Aberdeen.

DEC 24-28 Food Festival This annual event is a delicious journey of food from all over the world: Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Italy, Australia, Thailand and many more. Dec 24-27: 10am- 9pm, Dec 28: 10am- 7pm. Hall 3, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. $20 Entrance fee and free for anyone who is below 4 and above 64.

DEC 11–JAN 1 Ocean Park Christmas Sensation

DEC 24 Christmas Eve

Headlining this year’s festivities is Hong Kong’s first ever virtual reality rollercoaster, Mine Train, with several other VR game zones. They have also collaborated with Pinkoi, Asia’s leading online marketplace for designers, to turn Waterfront Plaza into a Christmas village where, apart from the festive marketplace, there will be also be staples such as Santa’s Cottage and Garden of Romance. Don’t miss the daily Light

Leave a snack out for Santa and his reindeers before going to bed.

DEC 25 Christmas Day Public holiday. Hopefully Santa will have filled your stockings! You can stay up late too as tomorrow is another public holiday.



Winter camps and workshops

DEC 16- JAN 6

Banana Art Club Christmas camp

This Christmas art camp is available for children aged 3 to teens aged 17. The camp will cover canvas painting, crafts, watercolour painting, sketching, manga and cartoon drawing and Chinese painting. Two-hour sessions cost $398, three-hour sessions cost $590, five sessions cost $2,100; all materials are included. Locations at either Causeway Bay or Discovery College—prices differ by location. Visit

UNTIL DEC 15 Maggie & Rose art and cooking camps Maggie & Rose is running a host of camps this Christmas, from ASA Soccer Adventure ($300 for a one-hour session; 4–6 year olds), to Rock School (a three-day band camp style course which culminates in a small concert; $3,800). Themed art and cooking drop-off sessions are

aimed 4–8 year-olds and priced at $810 for three hours. Discounts apply for members. 3/F, 301 The Pulse, 28 Beach Road Repulse Bay. To book, call 2638 7191.

DEC 18-JAN 5 Atom Academy Christmas camp The Winter Wonderland Christmas Camp in Wong Chuk Hang is packed with activities for children aged 2-8. Think sports, Taekwondo, mandarin and art. $2,500 for a five-day camp (three- and four-day options are also available). Visit for details or call 2295 6066.

DEC 18-22 AND JAN 2-5 ESF winter sports camps & clinics Camps are split by age or ability and range from tennis, to multisport, swimming and gymnastics. The multisport course covers six sports (football, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, basketball, kungfu) and starts at $2,500 for a week. Locations vary. Visit


DEC 19-31 YWCA winter camps 37 different camps, each separated into different levels depending on participants’ age. There will be arts and crafts, almost any sport you can think of, speech, chinese writing, Hong Kong street food, robot workshops, sensory discovery and many more. Prices, dates and times will differ according to choice of camp. For more information and booking, visit

DEC 27-30 ESF winter language and learning camps This camp caters to two groups: kindergarten students and lower primary students. Immersive in nature, it aims to improve students’ confidence and English-speaking abilities. Spread across four schools, the exact location will differ according to choice of camp. $2,580 for a week-long course. Visit



Other events

DEC 10

Hong Kong Corporate Sevens

Watch men and women from the city’s many corporates—including HSBC, Savills and KPMG—compete in tag rugby and help to raise funds for the Po Leung Kuk Tackling Life programme. The programme seeks to introduce Po Leung Kuk students to rugby and encourage a healthy and positive lifestyle. The Kidz Zone will be open from 10:30am-4pm. Head to the Village for hot bacon rolls and enter the raffle for the chance to win prizes. 9am-8pm, 2850 5990. So Kon Po Recreation Ground, a 15 minute walk from the Causeway Bay MTR Exit F. You could also take the 5B City Bus, 675 KBM or the 936 bus.

UNTIL DEC 26 Exhibition: The World of Tintin Created in 1929, The Tintin Adventures has been translated into 100 different languages and sold more than 230 million copies worldwide. This landmark exhibition explores the famous cartoon reporter and adventurer. Wednesday to Sunday, Noon-8pm. ArtisTree, 1/F, Cambridge House, Quarry Bay.

UNTIL MAR 2018 Exhibition: Glitter, Glitz, Glamour A collaboration between Avenue of Stars and movie poster artist Yuen Tai-Yung. This series spans 24 caricatures of famous movie stars and singers, such as Bruce Lee, Angelina Jolie, Steve McQueen, Jackie Chan, Leslie Cheung and many more. Free. Garden of Stars, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.


deTour 2017 A ten-day festival to celebrate cultural expression. deTour showcases Hong Kong for the international creative hub it is. Expect public interactive installations, exhibitions from local and international designers, and workshops and dialogues from some of the most exciting minds in the industry. This year’s theme is ‘Harmonious Chaos’, exploring the often overlooked beauty that lies in the imperfect process of creation. All exhibitions and events are free of charge. PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central.

DEC 1-10

DEC 2-3 HKT Hong Kong E-Prix The opener to the Formula E season takes place at Central Harbourfront. Only a small number of Grandstand tickets remain, prices start from $1,190. For ticketing, chances to win Allianz E-Village entry and more information, visit

DEC 2, 3 AND 23 Kids Holiday Treats Decorating Classes InterContinental Hong Kong’s executive pastry chef Cyril Dupuis will lead three sessions of festive treats decorating. The last will be gingerbread house decorating. Classes are inclusive of a storytelling session from The Nutcracker and a cup of hot chocolate (for both kids and adults during storytelling); Santa himself will drop by with cookies. Open to 5- to 11-yearolds, $380 per head. The Steak House winebar + grill, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon.

DEC 14 Deadline for letter to Santa via Hong Kong Post Send your letters in before this date to get a reply in time for Christmas—don’t forget to address it to Santa Claus and include your return address!

Wind Water book signing

DEC 1-10

Palani Mohan is launching his sixth book Wind Water, a reflection on the feng shui elements that power Hong Kong. He reckons this city has the most powerful elemental energy of any place on earth, and seeks to capture it in his stunning latest work. 6:30-8:30pm, F22 Gallery, 5/F, Amber Commercial Building, 70-74 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai,

DEC 15 Christmas Jumper Day Don a Christmas jumper today to show off your festive fashion and also raise awareness for international NGO Save the Children. Find out more at

DEC 18-25 Christmastime at The Mandarin Drop by The Mandarin Oriental for a host of festive entertainment including magicians and face painters, choir and ballet performances and an appearance from Santa himself. Starts from noon on December 23-25. Don’t miss the hotel’s long-standing tradition of enjoying fresh roasted chestnuts, mince pies and warm mulled wine; available at varying times from December 18-25. Visit for a full schedule of the hotel’s Christmas events. 5 Connaught Road Central.

DEC 20 VSA Admissions Introductory Session Learn about the Victoria Shanghai Academy secondary school curriculum. Stay after the event for the school’s alfresco carol concert, featuring performances from the primary and secondary choirs and orchestras, acapella group, jazz band and more. 5:50-7pm. Sign up at School_Tour_Booking.aspx



BOOK NOW JAN 6-28 CATS the Musical

Photo by Viaggio Routard via Flickr

The 2015 Olivier Award-nominated, Andrew Lloyd Weber production CATS is coming back to Hong Kong after a 12 year absence from London’s West End. Witness the Jellicle Cats’ annual gathering to decide which feline will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and a new life. Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Tickets from $445 to $1,245; family packages and student discount available. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Lyric Theatre.

JAN 13 International Montessori School Open Day Find out if IMS is the right fit for your children and family by touring the campus and speaking to faculty members. 9am to noon. Email for enquiries. Phase III, Ma Hang Estate, Stanley.

JAN 14-FEB 11 Kidsfest 2018 This festival is full of different plays adapted from books for children. These include The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler and Ugly Duckling by Emma Reeves. Other events include Dinosaur Zoo. Tickets prices vary, book at or visit

JAN 25-28 Disney on Ice The show returns to Hong Kong to celebrate “100 years of magic” (Walt Disney’s 100th birthday). The program includes 50 Disney characters and 30 sing-along songs including

‘Let It Go’, ‘Hakuna Matata’ and You’ve Got A Friend In Me’. Ticket prices from $300 to $780. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai.

MAR 8-18 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time An adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time written by Mark Haddon by Britain’s National Theatre. The play has won five Tony Awards and seven Oliviers including Best Play, Best Design, and Best Director. Showtimes vary. Ticket prices range from $180 to $580. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wanchai.

MAY 2-6 Swan Lake Performed by Russia’s critically acclaimed St.Petersburg Ballet Theatre. Tickets from $445 to $995. Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai.

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





MATILDA HOSPITAL DROPS PRICES Calling all mums-to-be. Matilda International Hospital has dropped the prices of its maternity package prices. Package prices have been lowered by up to 23 percent. Specifically, the cost for two-night normal deliveries in a shared room now start from $21,500 (previously $29,500) while four-night caesarian packages now start from $29,500 (previously $41,500). No deposit is required for booking a maternity bed. To book a maternity tour, call 2849 0355 or email 41 Mount Kellett Road, The Peak.

Simon Holliday, a learning and development manager for a Hong Kong law firm, successfully swam around Hong Kong Island last month. The swim, which took place on November 11, was part of an attempt to set a new record—the world’s first solo swim-circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island by a male swimmer. It also raised money for Holliday’s charity Splash, which has taught more than 700 domestic workers, most from the Philippines and Indonesia, to swim and be water safe. While no official record for this particular challenge exists, it was first attempted by former Australian Olympic swimmer Linda McGill on May 23, 1974. She swam the 48 km around Hong Kong Island in 17 hours. To set an

official record, Holliday had to follow rules set by the Channel Swimming Association. These include wearing shorts as opposed to a wetsuit, wearing just one swimming hat and a pair of goggles, and not touching any of his team’s boats. He was permitted to stop to tread water and eat snacks if they were thrown to him in the water. With tides, currents, marine traffic and potential for adverse weather conditions, the swim was predicted to take anywhere between 15 to 18 hours. Holliday concluded his swim at Sai Wan Swimming Shed at 3:32pm—a total time of just twelve and a half hours. His Splash foundation surpassed its target of raising $1million. Well done!

A 300-metre-long Iranian container vessel, the Trouska, crashed into an island near Ap Lei Chau last month after veering from its planned route. The vessel was on its way from the city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan to Shenzhen, when it left a fairway on the East Lamma Channel before running into Magazine Island, about 400 metres off residential estate South Horizons on Ap Lei Chau. Hong Kong Police Marine and Fire Services arrived at the scene to assist the ship’s crew, none of whom were hurt. The case has been handed over to the Marine Department for investigation. Magazine Island was once used by the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong as a


Photo by Shirley Chan


gunpowder storage—the source of the island’s name. The magazine was gradually emptied, and it was named a Grade III historic building in January 2010.

HONG KONG AWARDED 2022 GAY GAMES Hong Kong will host the 2022 Gay Games. The city beat out Washington, United States and Guadalajara, Mexico to host the event. The Gay Games is a sports and cultural event which began life as the Gay Olympics in San Francisco in 1982. Hong Kong will be the first Asian country to host the games since its inception. The city’s bid was supported by the likes of the Equal Opportunities Commission, businessman Allan Zeman, the Tourism Board and Cathay Pacific. The games are billed as the largest global sport and cultural gathering open to all. The event is held every four years, with 70 countries expected to participate in Paris next year. Participants do not have to be gay to take part. Organisers are planning 36 events, including local favourites trail running and dragon boat racing and traditional track and field events. “This is testament to Hong Kong’s spirit and passion for increased inclusion and diversity” said bid chair Dennis Philipse after the final presentation. “Bringing the Gay Games to Asia and Hong Kong as host proves the growth in openness in the city and across the region”.

in your backyard


ARRESTS MADE IN SHEK O HILLS OPERATION Police have arrested a total of twelve illegal immigrants and four human traffickers in a large scale hill operation which took place on October 27. The Organised Crime and Triad Bureau made the arrest in Shek O near Cape D’Aguilar Road. There were seven men and five women between the ages of 17 and 55, all from Vietnam. The traffickers, colloquially known as snakeheads, were part of a gang that smuggles Vietnamese people from mainland China to Hong Kong. The four snakeheads were arrested in Shau Kei Wan, Mong Kok, and the Lok Ma Chau control point.

The New Year is also a new start. In that spirit, Insight School of Interior Design is now accepting registrations for its 2018 Interior Design Diploma course, worth considering if you have an interest in interior design and are considering a change of career. The full-time diploma course (Monday to Friday for a year) begins on February 5, but there is also a Saturday-only option which starts on January 13 (takes about three years to complete). Insight School is the only school in Hong

Kong to offer an interior design diploma on a Saturday. The school was founded in 2014 by Eve Mercier, an interior designer and art historian who is no stranger to career changes. Mercier worked at auction houses in Paris and London, the French edition of The Art Newspaper and a London interior design firm before setting up her own, Eve Mercier Designs. For more information on the courses, visit

SPROUT IN MOTION OPENS IN WONG CHUK HANG Child psychology and learning centre Sprout in Motion has opened a new branch in Wong Chuk Hang. Headquartered in Central, the centre offers support, assessment and intervention for children with learning, emotional and behavioural challenges, and their families. Sprout is headed up by Dr Minna Chau, one of only a handful of Child Clinical Psychologists in Hong Kong. Dr Chau loves the Southside and has gone to great lengths to create a warm and nurturing physical environment that feels more like a play centre than a medical centre. The reception features a treehouse and wealth of toys, while a large group room and many of the consultation rooms overlook the verdant mountain-scape behind. Coping with learning and behavioural differences is undoubtedly hard on children and their families, but the new branch of Sprout aims to evoke a Blyton-esque magical backyard that children will surely delight in visiting. The clinicians at Sprout are all well-qualified and experienced; Minna is keen to emphasise that they care deeply about each family who comes through the door, going that extra mile to provide the best possible support and guidance.

Sprout offers Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychoeducational Assessment, Applied Behavioural Analysis, Orton-Gillingham Literacy Remediation, and Counselling. For more information, visit or call 2563 4183.

STUDENTS CREATE APP TO PAIR HELPERS AND EMPLOYERS Two postgraduate students in Hong Kong have created a free app that pairs domestic helpers and drivers in the city with employers. It’s called MamaHelpers and since launching in September, has attracted over 20,000 members. MamaHelpers allows employers to review, connect and hire a helper or driver directly. It has also established partnerships with “ethical agencies” (those it has determined are reliable, considerate and responsible)—for those who wish to save time on filtering candidates. “We started MamaHelpers to help employers and helpers alike. We believe in order to improve the current employment system, greater transparency is needed,” said co-founder Amanda So Tsz-yan. “We encourage users to contribute to the community and write reviews for every helper they have employed, ensuring future employers know who they’re hiring.” Employers only pay once they’ve successfully signed a contract. Those hiring domestic helpers via the app are charged from $1,598 to $5,200, depending on the type of contract. Those looking to hire a part-time helper do not have to pay because no contract is needed. Looking to the future, So and Leung want to roll the platform out further—they hope to work with at least 200 agencies in Hong Kong, in addition to helper training schools in the Philippines and Indonesia. Find out more at


win at


enter to win!

Picked by Poppins This new, user-friendly mummy, baby and child online store is full of brands that parents trust and kids love. From organic foods and natural bath bubbles, to toys and gift vouchers, you’re sure to find something here. Find out more at We’re giving away an Ergobaby Original Carrier in Black and Camel, valued at $990.

Insight School

Scooter by Meekboyz

Insight School of Interior Design is the city’s only school dedicated to design. It offers a year-long diploma as well as over 20 short courses for anyone with a passion for design. One lucky reader will win the opportunity to attend a one-day course valued at $2,600.

Founded by the adventure sports-loving Meek family, Meekboyz scooters are created using light-weight parts which makes it easier to do tricks—use the flat deck on the sides to pull off an impressive finger whip. The Meta X-1 Scooter is ready for any skate park or street spot! We have one Meekboyz Meta X-1 Pro Park scooter in black, worth $1,999, to give away.

Classified Classified has launched a new range of Christmas hampers ready for this year’s festive season. Choose from three homemade gourmet hampers, all filled with treats and nibbles, perfect for Christmas party gatherings with family, friends or co-workers. Order from December 1 at, or purchase from any Classified outlets. We’re excited to give away an indulgent ‘All I Want For Christmas’ hamper, valued at $2,400. Enter by December 15.

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to get all our giveaways delivered straight to your inbox:



five minutes with


Tom Hilditch


Editor-in-Chief Shreena Patel Contributing Editor Carolynne Dear Editor Eric Ho Editorial Assistant Catharina Cheung


Design Manager Cindy Suen Graphic Designer Anna Schulteisz


Digital Co-ordinator Cora Chan

Thanks to

Adam White Jennifer Deayton Jennifer Lee Jessie Yeung Joni Chan Mehul Dhakka Paul Zimmerman Dr. Pauline Taylor Stella So Tara Smyth Vasavi Seethepalli

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Hong Kong Living Ltd. Floor LG1, 222 Queens Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Illustration by Vivian Uhlir

ARIADNA PERETZ The founder of matchmaking agency Maitre D’ate talks to Shreena Patel about unrealistic expectations, the rise of dating apps and finding love in Hong Kong It was the lack of love in Hong Kong that set me on the path of becoming a professional matchmaker. Hong Kong felt like it was the easiest place to get laid but the hardest place to have a meaningful relationship…even though so many people were telling me they wanted a Significant Other. I help my clients fall in love with themselves first. All love is selflove; we need to love ourselves before we can truly love others.



The best part of my job is seeing clients understand themselves better, love themselves, and, of course, matching them well. The thing I like least is running a business. I’m writing a book about the challenges of starting a business and how it can affect a marriage. My marriage is solid but starting a business has tested it. A matchmaker makes sense for anyone who has not been

successful with their current methods of finding a Significant Other. “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results” so if apps and bars haven’t been much help why not try me?! I’m far from being the most expensive, though I’m not the least expensive either.

If apps and bars haven’t been much help, why not try me?

Maitre D’ate is special because we do lots of exercises to understand what it is you want and need in your Significant Other and why. I recommend everyone who is single but wants to be in a

relationship to ask themselves what they really want and why. You can find a free worksheet at maitredate. com/dealbreakers-preferencesworksheet Matching criteria can include everything from age and career to social habits and values. Matching based on written criteria is the easy part. Then there’s chemistry, which can only be felt and is not always immediate. It can take time to develop and requires patience, which is something Hongkongers have little of. It’s hard to measure how many of the matches work out. What does that mean? Do they get married? Do they go on more than one date? I see success as clients learning about themselves, loving themselves, realizing their dealbreakers and preferences are more flexible than they first thought, and meeting their Significant Other.

match of the day It’s human nature to have unrealistic expectations of their potential partners. We don’t talk about the stuff that matters—are we a couple? Do you love me? Why did you ghost* me and reappear three months later?—because it’s uncomfortable. Hence, our expectations guide us. But, when your expectations and mine don’t match we get upset. I think it’s always best to start out with good intentions and no expectations. As things progress, check in and discuss what’s on your mind. It’s your heart, protect it. In general, I think we’re better off with dating apps because we are introduced to more people. But they have also created a Pending Better Offer (PBO) attitude—we always have one foot out of the door thinking we might get someone better if we keep on swiping. We need to think less about ‘finding’ the best love and more about ‘making’ it. Dating apps have also made us forget that the people we’re swiping on are humans with feelings, hopes and dreams, and our online brashness and IRL ghosting have consequences. Modern dating is brutal. My advice to get that second date? If you like the person, flirt, make jokes (and laugh at theirs), break the physical barrier (i.e. make contact in a comfortable and appropriate way). Learn about each other by asking questions (“What do you do for a living?”

does not cut it), have fun, throw in a couple of compliments, don’t take yourself so seriously. Obviously, if you’re no longer interested in the person you are under no obligation to flirt or break the physical barrier.

or number of Instagram followers. Identify, understand and accept what is truly important to you and discard the rest. I haven’t had any terrible dates (thankfully). I guess I should say something about my husband for the best date but that would be a lie.

You are worth more than the sum of your deals or the size of your bank account

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt in this job is that most people want to be intellectually stimulated but have a hard time getting into deep conversation and would rather stay in the safe zone (small talk). I now offer conversation coaching to help people get more comfortable segueing and asking more probing questions. That’s where you make the real connection.

I think the biggest mistake people make on a date is forgetting it’s a date. It is a date. You’re not networking and you’re not out with a friend. You’re on a date because there was at least a little spark of attraction. Don’t lose it. If you often get frozen because of first-date nerves, watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk and try power posing.

What has surprised me most is that most men are OK dating a woman who is taller than them but it is a big deal for women. I’m on a crusade to change that!

My advice for singles in Hong Kong? First things first: put your phone away and get to know yourself. Love yourself, forgive yourself, treat yourself right. You are worth more than the sum of your deals or size of your bank account

There’s no secret to finding love: If you want a healthy relationship you need to love yourself first because all love is self-love. * When someone suddenly stops all communication with the person they’ve been seeing, the theory being that the person being ignored will “get the hint”.



Sales & Marketing Sales Director Hilda Chan

Sales & Marketing Executive Kiran Hiranandani Venus Man Isamonia Chui


Management Trainee Charles Lau


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

The hotel is proposed to be built at 78-79 Stanley Main Street


GIVE US A CALL! Admin: 3568 3722 Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772, 3563 9755 Southside 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. Southside Magazine cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or pubishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.



Another application has been filed to build a new hotel in Stanley. Jennifer Lee reports


developer has resubmitted an application to build a boutique hotel at 78-79 Stanley Main

Street. This latest submission follows an application made by the same company Rostar Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Eton Properties, last September. Southside Magazine reported on the first application in November 2016. “In considering the growing demand of hotel accommodation and shop and services in the Stanley area,” the latest application reads, “the applicant intends to make better use of the site and to upgrade the local environment through the provision of a boutique hotel development with associated pedestrian facilities at the site. The current proposed scheme is a eight-storey hotel with 30 guest rooms”. To this end, the developer is seeking a minor relaxation of the

height restriction, increasing it from 21 metres to 25.2 metres.

The current proposed scheme is an eight-storey hotel with 30 guest rooms

The application states that, “the site has long been occupied by single-storey structures for retail use since the 1970s”. Specifically, it was previously home to the Apple Mall, which housed a variety of shops selling everything from curtains to children’s apparel. It closed in 2014 following a 50

percent increase in government fees. Currently, according to local campaigner and Stanley resident Maxine Yao, the site is blocked off and surrounded by wooden boards. “The proposed hotel development,” the application continues, “is in line with the government’s policy to promote tourism and will enhance Stanley as a popular suburban tourist town in Hong Kong. It is also in line with the planning objectives to improve pedestrian circulation along Stanley Market Road”. However, not everyone agrees. Yao points out several issues with the developer’s plan. “The new plans by the developer encroach on the pedestrian area,” she says, “whereas the original plans didn’t. If they do this, the pavement will be narrower than it already is when we should be widening it”. She also raises concerns about

banyan tree stanley the possibility of construction work on the pedestrianised area causing potential damage to a well-known banyan tree nearby on Stanley Main Street, whose roots are partly entangled in a WWII bunker beside the pavement. The banyan has been given the classification OVT (old valuable tree) by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. “It’s a very significant tree in Stanley,” Yao explains. “There’s a flower shop under the tree, so in Cantonese we call it ‘the flower shop tree’. We want to preserve and protect it.” According to Marianne Yeo, long-time Stanley resident who speaks for other concerned locals, this old tree will need to have at least three major branches, which comprises almost half of its crown, removed to make way for the hotel construction. She also adds that this is “likely to destablise the tree roots which will already be weakened by construction tremors”. While the developer’s plan says “the proposal can serve as a catalyst for townscape upgrading and will improve the pedestrianisation of the Stanley Market area”, many residents take a different view. “A lot of residents agree it will turn the area into Tin Wan, which has two boutique hotels owned by Eton Properties,” says Yao. “We already have a boutique hotel near Wong Ma Kok Road. If they build here too, thousands of visitors will come

Some residents are concerned about potential damage to an old banyan tree

and block the whole road. When I posted about the plan on social media, most people opposed it—only a few merchants and district councillors support it.” Yao points out that district councillor for Stanley and Shek O, Ms Chan Yee Pui-ying and her husband, in fact own four properties located close to the proposed hotel on Stanley Main Street. “The value of of her shop will go up,” Yao explains, “so naturally she

would support the development.” However, the district councillor replied to Southside Magazine claiming that she neither supports nor opposes the development as the views of Stanley’s residents are her own as well, and says that the boutique hotel will not benefit her in any way. The plan can be viewed and commented on by the public at:




Rebecca Simpson takes a trip to Tuen Mun to find out how five-year-old Harrow Hong Kong is shaping up


riving along Castle Peak Road in Tuen Mun, Harrow International School Hong Kong looms proud and tall on the horizon. It’s a slice of revered British tradition right in our backyard. Opened in Hong Kong in 2012, Harrow is a relative newcomer on Hong Kong’s international school scene, but in five years it has delivered strong academic and sporting performance. Naturally, with such aspirational heritage comes robust interest. The school is currently at capacity with a waiting-list for each year.

Fees Harrow is also known for its robust fee structure, but some compelling fee-related news has been released by the school this month. The school has announced the removal of the $5 million individual capital levy admission (ICC) requirement for early years pupils. This is noteworthy news for interested


parents and an interesting development for Hong Kong’s international school community. A 20 percent increase in the compulsory annual capital levy last year sparked ire from parents. It was claimed at the time that the hike was necessary to fund school expansion plans. This apparent about-turn likely reflects changes to expatriate pay packages in the city which, according to a recent survey by global expatriate management company ECA International, have fallen to a five year low. Hong Kong’s international school fees have previously commonly featured as part of expatriate benefits but the tide is turning as companies struggle to remain cost-effective. It seems this downward trend is now being acknowledged by schools. It’s important to note the school maintains the compulsory capital levy payment of $60,000 per student per year for Early Years students. This payment is additional to school fees (which can be found on the school’s website).

But this most recent adjustment to Harrow’s fee structure certainly makes the school a more accessible choice to expats with young children living in Hong Kong.

School experience As currently the only international school in the city to provide boarding, Harrow Hong Kong offers parents a unique education proposition. From year six, Harrow students have the option to board during the week.

open day “The children are here from Sunday evening until Friday evening,” explains head of Harrow, Ann Haydon. “They are busy during the day with timetabled lessons. They then have enrichment or extracurricular activities after school—you’ll see they’re involved in sport, music, drama, poetry, the engineering society, reading in the library, doing their prep—they are busy the whole time. They also have downtime, where they sit and chat and have time with their friends—this is important.” Boarding is not compulsory and Haydon explains it’s a choice that needs to be explored on a case-by-case basis. Boarding suits some students, while others prefer their experience as a day pupil. “Those children who want to immerse themselves into school life, spend time with their friends during the week, concentrate on their studies, and get involved in a whole range of activities really thrive. But there are other children who will prefer to go home each evening take part in outside activities.” Families and potential students interested in school life as a boarder at Harrow are encouraged to contact the school. “The best thing is for them to come and talk to us, see how it works, talk to children from various ages who are boarders in the school,” says Haydon. “And for them to go in and experience boarding life—we often have taster sleepover sessions for children so they can give it a go.”

Heritage A Harrovian education is still highly respected globally. Harrow was founded in 1572, and its graduates are in fine company alongside historymakers such as Winston Churchill and a string of former UK Prime Ministers. More creativelyminded students may be inspired knowing school alumni include modern pop-culture icons Benedict Cumberbatch and James Blunt, not to mention all the Harrovian Olympic gold medalists, Nobel Prize Laureates, and High Court judges. A note to parents of daughters—you may have noticed all of Harrow’s notable alumni are male. Harrow in the UK is a male-only school but Harrow Hong Kong offers a co-ed opportunity and Haydon believes Harrow Hong Kong’s exemplary student body will add to that historic list. Here’s hoping Hong Kong’s alumni will bring some balance to the list of notable alumni.

Identity It’s important to note that Harrow Hong Kong stands independent from its UK ‘cousin’ and has fast established its own culture. “We’re bringing the best of a British education to Asia so that certain traditions, teaching methods, and curriculums are embedded,” says Haydon.

I don’t want pupils to live in a bubble of privilege, I want them to be able to engage with their community and have a desire to do good

“In terms of Asian traditions, we’re obviously an English speaking school but we teach Chinese and we look at methods which have been successful in this part of the world. We’re a school which appreciates that people have different values, different religious beliefs and different traditions. And we want to celebrate that,

because we’re a diverse community. It provides a wonderful experience for our young people going forward to be aware of those traditions and methods, of different cultures, as they move into the world of work.”

Minds and souls Students at Harrow are encouraged to develop a breadth of experience while at school. “We are totally committed to providing an all round education. From its founding days, Harrow London believed that success shouldn’t only be measured by examination grades, but it should be measured by one’s influence on the world. This is a fundamental aspect of a Harrow education,” says Haydon. The student body at Harrow embraces music, the students have even written their own Harrow song. “And I’ve no doubt that we have some prize-winning artists in our student body,” Haydon adds. Appreciation of the arts is also instilled into Harrow students. “It’s about feeding their souls as well as their minds. We’ve got very high standards academically but we also want to give them opportunities to participate so they can develop their interests and hobbies that will take them into adult life.”



School Report

Leadership Leadership is a very Harrovian quality and is an innate part of the school’s DNA. It’s the responsibility of Harrow staff to ensure each student is afforded the opportunity to lead in the day-to-day of life at school. “Has every child had the opportunity to come to the front and lead from the front? Has every child answered a question in class that day? Has every child had the opportunity to be a spokesperson for group work? It’s about a mindset for all our staff. It’s character building and it instills a sense of adventure to lead or work in a team, to make decisions and even do something a little


risky—that’s all part of growing up. Competing for your school—in a debate, in a competition, on a sports field—it’s a thrill.” While the school is busy actively creating the leaders of the future, teachers are also mindful to give the children a sense of perspective and community. “Charity fundraising is very strong here. It’s not always about giving money—that can be easy for some people—it’s about giving time. I don’t want pupils to live in this bubble of privilege, I want them to be able to engage with their local, national, and international communities and have that burning desire to do good.”

Established: 2012 (Harrow UK was founded in 1572) Number of students: 1,255 Class size: 16-24 Curriculum: • Early Years (K1 & K2) follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum • Pre-Prep School (Years 1 to 5) follows the National Curriculum of England • Prep School (Year 6 to 8) offers a skills-based curriculum to manage the transition to subject-specific teaching • Senior School (Years 9 to 11) curriculum is based on GCSE courses • Sixth Form (Years 12 to 13) curriculum is based on A-Level courses with the option to take an Extended Project Qualification. Fees 2017/2018: $145,557-$197,930 Non refundable capital levy: $60,000 Address: 38 Tsing Ying Road, Tuen Mun, New Territories, Hong Kong Tel: 2824 9099


home & living

RIBBON HOUSE The co-founder of interior design studio FAK3, Johnny Wong, shows Jessie Yeung around one of his award-winning projects in Repulse Bay

Tell me about yourself.

What was the hardest part?

After graduating from the Royal College of Art I started working for the Office for Metropolitan Architecture on their projects in Asia, particularly Korea, before founding FAK3 with my business partner Miho.

We had to push some boundaries in this project, especially the fabrication of the “ribbon staircase”. It took two months of work with an old traditional carpenter, who explained the complex form of the stairs using physical cardboard and computer generated models. We worked on over 50 configurations but the result was an innovative design which both we and the sifu (master) are extremely satisfied with.

Why did you want to be an architect? I enjoy drawing and creating things. Architecture is an interesting balance of art and science.

What led you to design this home? We were asked by a private client to completely rework this 10,000 sq ft home architecturally to create a modern, functional house, filled with light and air. The client wanted to redesign the exterior, and reorganise the relationship between window openings and interior spaces. The house already had a full sea view but the client sought to form a closer connection with the natural landscape.

Did you achieve it? Our design provided a sculpturally interesting yet functional way to connect all floors, as well as an abundance of natural light and scenic views.


What’s your favourite thing in the apartment? The ribbon staircase, which is the house’s main feature. It was born as a way to provide smoother transitions between each floor, and to funnel natural light from the roof to the lower levels.

What is your favourite material to work with? I enjoy working with natural materials, especially marble, as each piece of stone is unique and irreplaceable. I also like warmer materials such as natural silk because of its texture and sheen.

architectural digest

Architecture is an interesting balance of art and science

What is one thing every home should have? The control of light. An easy way to achieve this is to use wooden shutters to manipulate light, or to use sheer fabrics for curtains. Reducing ceiling lights and using table and floor lamps instead also helps—it increases the ambience of the room.

What architectural solutions can give more control of natural light? These would focus primarily on what spaces

within the home need light and when. Understanding light paths of sunrise and sunset as well as the impact of the surrounding houses should influence the orientation of the house.

Are there other architects whom you admire? Adolf Loos, Victor Horta, Carlo Scarpa, Sir John Soane, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - there are many. They were pioneers during their time, and were a starting point for my education in the field of architecture.

What’s your most memorable project? This one - it was our first house. Our team had personal satisfaction as well as global acknowledgment from the awards and coverage it received. The project won The American Architecture Prize for best house interior in 2016.

What current or upcoming projects do you have? We are currently working on a colonial house in Hong Kong for a private client as well as large residential developments for developers.


HK adventures


Shau Kei Wan E ac h mont h, loc Stella al artist S a new o explor es cor the c ner of ity


cover story

THE BOXING DAY CHALLENGE By Jennifer S. Deayton. Illustrated by Vasavi Seethepalli


ine sets of reindeer hooves and one empty sleigh touched down on the sand at Stanley Main Beach. It was still dark in Hong Kong, early on Christmas Day. The calm waters of the bay glistened under the waning moon. Sunrise was an hour away. Almost as one, Santa’s nine reindeer exhaled a sigh of relief. They had just dropped Santa and Mrs. Claus in Macau for a few nights of feasting, gambling and a show at the Cotai Strip. A small reward for another year of a job well done. The reindeer were on their own and in need of relaxation too. Dim sum, a Star Ferry ride, some gentle walks in Tai Tam country park, or maybe just lounging at Repulse Bay – their Hong Kong ‘Travel Guide for Ungulates’ was full of ideas. They


shrugged off their reins and stepped away from the sled. Ah, vacation. “One, two, three, four,” a voice from the darkness barked. “Five, six, seven, eight, nine.” Rudolph switched on his nose. “Who’s that?” The other reindeer gathered behind him. Rudolph was the bravest one. The voice drew nearer. “Yep, that’s what we requested.” Stepping into the circle of Rudolph’s red light was a large, black dog. A Labrador to be exact. Rudolph puffed up his chest and lifted his chin as boldly as he could. Who was this creature and where had she come from? The black lab looked at Rudolph and the reindeer cowering behind him. Their bodies

were large and shaggy brown, and a tangle of antlers topped each head. With their bulk and long legs, they must weigh over 100 kilos apiece. She narrowed her eyes and spoke. “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” “Are you taking us on a ferry ride?” Dancer piped up. A chorus of laughter erupted in the darkness. About a dozen dogs—all shapes and sizes—rushed up to join the black lab. They were doubling over with merriment. “What’s the meaning of this?” Rudolph demanded. The black lab smiled. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Emmy and this is my team—the Seadogs. Well, it’s your team now, at least for the next two days. Welcome!”


cover story “We don’t know anything about any team.” “But you signed up—on the app—for the dragon boat race?” Emmy pulled out a phone from her dry bag, swiped down and started reading. “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen…” “Wait!” “Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen.” “We didn’t sign up for anything!” “Somebody did… Rudolph.” He whirled around to his herd, eyes ablaze, and looked from reindeer to reindeer. Slowly, with head cast down, Comet lifted up one hoof. “The guidebook promised a unique experience,” he said. “You’re going to love it!” Emmy said. A medium-sized Shiba mix named Amy joined Emmy in the light. “Half of our team have abandoned us for the Shek O Day Spa and Kennel while their owners are on holiday,” she said. “But we’re due to race in the Boxing Day Challenge. We need paddlers.” “What d’ya say, Rudolph?” Emmy asked. “Can you help us out?”

Climbing into the long, narrow dragon boat was its own unique experience. The reindeer squeezed in between the more knowledgeable dogs, their hind legs bent and squashed into the tiny space. Their broad shoulders and front legs grappled for room to move. One little tussle and the boat was sure to capsize. Emmy and Amy, the two lead rowers, demonstrated the proper rowing technique


and told the reindeer to follow the rhythm of the dog in front of them. Rudolph, who sat towering over a mini pinscher named Mojo, scoffed at the little guy below. One swing of a paddle would send Mojo straight into the sea. How could Rudolph—Santa’s lead reindeer— follow this pipsqueak of a dog, who’d never known snow or sleet or the challenge of delivering toys around the world in a single night? Rudolph shifted and grumbled in his seat while Oreo, a black and white mongrel, passed out paddles. Each paddle had special slots for paws and/or hooves. “Amazing! Where’d you get these?” Dancer asked. “We got a guy,” Oreo said, “in Shenzhen.”

Now filled with twenty paddlers, both newbies and pros, the dragon boat floated a few feet off shore. As the sun began to rise, the team faced the open water, but something was missing. “Hold up! We’re coming!” Several of the reindeer turned quickly toward the beach and the female voice heading their way. The boat teetered and tottered in the shallow water. “Steady!” Emmy yelled. “Don’t move!” On the starboard side of the boat, a big body carrying another smaller body on its back crashed through the water and clambered aboard. But these bodies weren’t dogs at all. Was the dawn light deceiving them? The reindeer shook their heads at the sight of a wild boar and a stripy-orange cat. The surprisingly agile boar took a seat behind the dragon boat’s drum. “This is Gina,” Emmy said. “She’s our drummer.” Gina had a long snout and coarse brown hair, but her smile was warm and she waved a friendly hello as she shook the water off her hide. The cat, however, scampered to the back of the boat with barely a hello. Emmy introduced him as ‘Ah Quint’, coach, trainer, sifu. The most experienced and decorated paddler on the boat. Ah Quint’s silent authority was only heightened by his rough and ragged coat of fur and the black eyepatch over his left eye. The reindeer didn’t need to be told that old Ah Quint was not to be trifled with. “Forward!” he commanded.


cover story

Five hours later, the reindeer crawled from the shallows to the beach and collapsed in a heap under the lifeguard tower. Their legs were sore, their backs were sore, their hooves were sore. Even their antlers ached! Pulling a sleigh was child’s play compared to Ah Quint’s workout. “Reindeer!” Ah Quint stood before them. His one good eye scanned the exhausted pile of animals. The reindeer struggled to their feet. “Early start tomorrow. No partying tonight. If I see anyone at Sunny’s…” “Yes, sifu,” they said. Most of the dogs were heading home. Mojo turned and waved at Rudolph before joining his canine teammates. He’d been very patient with the enormous reindeer, no matter how many times Rudolph’s wayward paddle had smacked and splashed him.


The reindeer slumped in the sand and watched Ah Quint walk away. They missed Santa. He and Mrs Claus must be getting ready for their show about now. Gina, Oreo and a white Westie named Nessie brought over ice creams. “You’re going to be great,” Gina said. “See you all tomorrow?” “Sure,” Rudolph said. But Rudolph wasn’t so sure. The only animals that pulled Santa’s sleigh were reindeer: same size, same weight, same hometown, reindeer! They didn’t know the South China Sea or dragon boating and they certainly weren’t dogs. How’d they get mixed up in this crazy race? “Come on, team,” Rudolph said. “Get up.” “Is it time for dim sum?” Dancer asked. “The guide recommends this place in Aberdeen,” Comet added. “No more guides,” Rudolph said. “Let’s go.”

Two taxis dropped them off at the quiet end of Repulse Bay. They trudged along the promenade, stopping to graze the grass along the path and watch the sailboats returning to Middle Island. The sun dipped low behind Ocean Park. With every weary step, their tiredness and soreness only increased. Ah Quint’s scolding rang in their ears. “On the beat! Listen! Elbows high! Put your back into it!” Some vacation. By the time they reached Deep Water Bay, Rudolph had convinced his team to head back to their sleigh and back to Lapland. Reindeer don’t paddle! But just as Rudolph was leading the reindeer to the road, Dancer called out. “Look! Over there!” Across the water, a large junk was heading their way. And on the bow of the boat stood three figures: Santa, Mrs. Claus and… Ah Quint?


cover story

“Whoa there!” Santa shouted. “Where are you going?” The reindeer cheered and rushed down to the jetty. Ah Quint lowered the ladder and everyone climbed aboard. The reindeer surrounded Santa. They were full of questions. “Ah Quint sent me an SOS,” Santa explained, “so we switched our show tickets to tomorrow night. How could Mrs. Claus and I miss your big race?”


The reindeer turned to Rudolph with eager faces and renewed energy. “Come on! How ‘bout it? We can’t let the Seadogs down!” There was no question of going back to Lapland now. The junk turned and began motoring back to the typhoon shelter. The reindeer and the Claus’s sat on the top deck as the parade of lights from tower blocks and the floating restaurant twinkled in the night sky. Away from the crowd, Ah Quint stood silently on the bow. Rudolph joined him.

“Thank you,” Rudolph said. His nose glowed in the twilight. Ah Quint looked out to the darkening sea. “My father lived on a boat. My grandfather and my great-grandfather lived on boats. Paddling is in our blood, just as pulling a sleigh is in yours.” “But paddling is very different, sir.” “Rudolph, do you know why Mojo is just as valuable to the Seadogs as Emmy and Amy?”

ho ho ho!

“Why, sir?” “Teamwork!” “Teamwork.” Rudolph didn’t need to say any more. The chug-chug of the junk’s motor mingled with his thoughts. Once upon a time, every reindeer looked at Rudolph the way he had viewed Mojo. “Maybe one day,” Ah Quint said, “I’ll visit your land of snow and ice.” “You’re welcome any time, sifu.”

Boxing Day dawned sunny and bright. Emmy, Amy and Oreo arrived early at the beach to prepare the boat. Though the traditional Dragon Boat Festival was months away, Gina brought along red paint so Santa could dot the dragon’s eye, forehead and tongue before the team—all 22 animals— pushed out to sea.

As they waited at the starting line, Rudolph looked to his right and then to his left. Each boat was filled with fierce faces and hardy competitors. Rudolph gripped his oar. He leaned down to Mojo. The tenacious little dog gave him a paw version of ‘thumbs up!’ When Ah Quint called out “Focus, Seadogs!” Rudolph knew: he and his mates weren’t reindeer anymore, they were paddlers. What a vacation!



CHRISTMAS CALORIES DON’T COUNT Catharina Cheung brings you the best our city has to offer for festive foods. Eat, drink, and be merry!

CHRISTMAS EVE & CHRISTMAS DAY Zuma Exclusively for Christmas Eve and Day, contemporary Japanese restaurant Zuma is bringing out a Christmas Baikingu Brunch. This will include guest favourites alongside seasonal specials, such as teriyaki glazed turkey, teriyaki salmon fillet with pickled cucumber and grilled Brussel sprouts with spicy shiso butter. Even the mulled wine has a Zuma twist—a mixture of Pimms, yuzu juice, honey, lemongrass, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn and more. Head pastry chef Eddy Lee will also add gingerbread pudding, Japanese strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate log to his famed dessert platter. 11am-5pm in two hour seating slots, $648 for non-alcoholic package and $788 for the deluxe package with free-flow wine, champagne, sake and beer. L5, Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road, Central. 3657 6388,

Sevva Celebrate Christmas in refinement at SEVVA, with a specially curated menu. Enjoy the spectacular views from the terrace before settling into the Christmas Celebration Set Lunch, which features roast turkey (of course) as well as a rum and fig Christmas pudding in French crêpe with crème Anglaise ($600/guest; available December 4 to 22). Alternatively, book in for the restaurant’s Christmas Eve Dinner Menu ($2,580/guest), highlights of which include·a prawn, crab meat & zucchini crêpe with Champagne beurre blanc and caviar, plus roast duckling with red cabbage and sweet onion risotto. 25/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central. 2537 1388,

Rhoda Go the whole hog (literally) and gather family and friends at Rhoda this Christmas to feast


on a whole hog from the proudly British Wicks Manor Farm. Choose from three starters— including cured Scottish salmon, heritage beetroot and horseradish cream—before tucking into a buffet-style spread with roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, pigs-in-blankets along with gravy and burnt apple sauce. Rhoda’s

bah, humbug!

Tuck into a festive meal at Bibo

popular cheesecake finishes things off. Choose between a 12pm lunch or 6pm dinner on Christmas Day ($748 pp including a 2.5-hour free-flow drinks package). 345 Des Voeux Rd W, Shek Tong Tsui. 2177 5050,

Bibo Holiday season diners will be given an artistic dining experience in this art deco inspired venue featuring artwork from contemporary artists such as Basquiat, Damien Hirst, and King of Kowloon. Bibo is also the only restaurant in Hong Kong that is part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux group. Highlights from the Christmas lunch and dinner menus include La Langoustine pan fried Norway lobster, Le Pigeon roast fillet with foie gras, and La Boule de Noel chestnut Bavarois. Lunch costs $480 and dinner $980; both include a glass of champagne and are available from December 24-26. Bibo, 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. 2956 3188,

Wooloomooloo Australian steakhouse chain Wooloomooloo is serving up delectable menus for each of its branches. Served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Wooloomooloo Wanchai will

have a four-course menu ($898 p.p.) with dishes such as Hokkaido scallop tartare with Avruga caviar, and main courses of either traditional Christmas turkey, pan-seared Patagonian toothfish or grilled Australian beef tenderloin. Meanwhile, the higher end Wooloomooloo Prime in Tsim Sha Tsui will have an even more decadent five-course menu ($988), with offerings such as roasted French quail with duck foie gras, king salmon fillet with mussels in lobster sauce, and Prime’s signature Australian 200-day grain fed sirloin. Three locations including 31/F The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Road, Wanchai. 2893 6960,

Alternatively, on Christmas Day Felix offers a choice of a three-course early dinner from 6-8pm ($1,388) or a five-course meal from 8pm onwards ($1,988). There will also be a live band performing from 8pm from Christmas Eve to New Years Eve. Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. 2926 2888,

The Peninsula Hong Kong The Peninsula is bringing out a variety of holiday offerings at its signature restaurants and bars. Much-loved Swiss restaurant Chesa will host a festive five-course gala dinner on Christmas Eve ($1,888) and a three-course lunch on Christmas Day ($628), while French fine dining institution Gaddi’s will offer a six-course Christmas Eve dinner ($3,388), in addition to a four-course festive lunch ($1,288) and five-course dinner menu on Christmas Day ($2,088). Those with a penchant for the avant garde should consider heading to Felix for a six-course Christmas Eve meal ($2,888).


eating Lala Curio


If you love Christmas, beautiful objects and sweet treats, this is for you. Design boutique Lala Curio’s hampers include its own signature products, such as handpainted bins, Cloisonné curios and Obi cushions, as well as a few sweet delights from Jouer Atelier—Christmas macarons, fondant Christmas cake and Canelés. Prices range from $2,200–$5,500. To order, call 2528 5007 or visit the store,

Oliver’s the Delicatessen


Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Classified’s 2017 hamper collection includes three homemade options: All I Want for Christmas ($2,400) is filled with treats such as mince pies, mulled wine and cider mix, sugar coated almonds and Delamotte Brut Champagne—great for parties; Winter Wonderland ($990) is suitable for smaller gatherings with items including homemade pickles, Serrano ham and Manchego cheese; Little Drummer Boy ($700) contains snacks such as gingerbread men, chocolate chip cookies and mixed nuts. Place your order before December 26 to enjoy 10 percent off. Available from Classified outlets and online at Delivery available to all of Hong Kong, excluding outlying islands and Discovery Bay. Contact

The Mandarin Oriental’s Deluxe Hamper ($5,998) contains everything from Ruinart Brut Champagne and Loch Fyne classic smoked salmon, to C&B acacia honey with comb, panettone, Christmas cookies, orange peel dipped in chocolate, and much more. For something a little less extravagant, the Traditional Hamper ($3,978) is filled with festive treats including mini York ham, potted Stilton, and a variety of delicate sweets. Finally The Hamper ($2,898) is made for those with a penchant for Christmas sweets—think Christmas pudding, mince pies, classic Stollen, and more. Delivery only (additional charges apply). Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance. Call 2825 4008 or email


This season, Oliver’s spoils us for choice with 14 wine and snack-based and four meat-based hampers. Smartly presented in baskets or boxes, they include a wide variety of products such as Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne, Rougie Bloc of Duck Foie Gras, Sabatino Black Summer Truffle Carpaccio, and Kambly Noblesse Gold Biscuits. From each of the two categories, we like the Deluxe Holiday Hamper ($6,880) and the Connoisseur Hamper ($2,880). Prices range from $680–$8,800. Enjoy a 10 percent discount when you spend a minimum of $1,000 on selected hampers with eligible American Express cards, or receive $150 in Oliver’s vouchers with purchase of five selected hampers. Orders must be placed before December 24. Call 9884 3362/9884 3151 or email with ‘Hamper Order’ in the subject.

Marks and Spencer This year M&S presents 11 different Christmas hampers and food gifts to suit all tastes, including a gluten free option. Filled with choice food and drinks from around the world, the contents include Portuguese 10 year old Aged Tawny Port, marc de Champagne truffles, and mulled wine winter berry conserve. Prices range from $130.50 for the Kid’s Delights to $3,889 for the Christmas Spectacular hamper. Order before December 15 to receive complimentary delivery service on select hampers. Order in all M&S stores or phone 3656 2337.




CRFT PIT 208 Duecento Otto

La Rotisserie

Want the privacy of your own dining room without the washing up? Consider 208’s private dining space ‘The Cellar’. Gather your friends and family in this clandestine venue for a touch of exclusivity. There’s no special Christmas menu, but you can enjoy a family style sharing feast, the highlight of which is a five and a half kg slow roasted Tomahawk cut. This feasting menu costs $660 per person and includes free flow house wine, aperol spritz and draught beer. The Cellar is available for dinner functions from Sunday to Thursday. 208 Hollywood Road, Central. 2549 0208,

This year, La Rotisserie brings two typically French seasonal delights to Hong Kong: Guinea Fowl and Capon. Guinea fowl ($288, 1.4kg) is tender and rich in flavour, with a sweet, crisp skin when roasted, ideal in size for smaller parties of three to four people. Buttery and tender, Capon ($888, 3.5kg) offers much more meat and can serve eight to 10. Both are imported directly from France and served with homemade Champagne sauce. If you’re feeling really lazy, the “Capon Feast” ($1,680) and ‘Guinea Fowl delight” ($1,380) feed eight to 10 people and include either one Capon or two Guinea Fowl served with homemade Champagne sauce, side dishes (truffle parmesan mashed potatoes, roast pumpkin and forest mushrooms, and sautéed French beans), and a whole chocolate cake topped with sea salt. Advance booking of at least three days is required. Email or visit

Aberdeen Street Social Pull off an impressive dinner party with minimal effort, with a little help from Chef Chris Whitmore and his team. What’s on the menu? Beef Wellington, roasted potatoes, carrots and shallots braised in port and red wine sauce, and more. $350pp, minimum size serves two. All the prep work is done, just heat up and serve. If you’re on the hunt for a decent mince pie, Aberdeen Street Social’s mini mince pies are baked fresh daily and available to pre-order in packs of six ($88). G/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2866 0300,


Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong If you’re planning to host a festive feast at home, the Mandarin Oriental has everything you need. Roasted turkeys come in two sizes: large (10kg, $3,088) or small (7kg, $2,888), with all the trimmings—stuffing, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, roast pumpkin and mashed potatoes. Alternatively, the honey glazed ham ($7kg, $3,088) is served with Madeira sauce, roast pumpkin and mashed potatoes. Available for delivery December 1 to 31. Place your order before December 22 by calling 2825 4008 or emailing

One for the meat lovers. Artisan smokehouse and butcher CRFT PIT has created a Christmas set that will satisfy even the most voracious of carnivores. The menu boasts a whole hickory smoked spatchcock turkey, maple bourbon pork belly, and pulled pork and sausage stuffing among various sides. This $2,488 set feeds six to eight people, and more meat, extra sides and desserts are available as add ons. Delivery on Hong Kong Island will set you back between $150-$200, while fees for other territories are calculated case by case. Available from December 18-25. For orders and enquiries, phone 2476 2800 or email

Direct Wines Like Sir Cliff, we’re partial to a glass of wine (or two) at Christmas. Lucky for us then, that Direct Wines is doing a special promotion for the festive period to cover all our fermented grape juice needs. Get twelve bottles of Gold French reds at $999 where the original retail price was $1,998, and get three additional bottles of French red for free. Alternatively, choose twelve bottles of Great Euro Estate reds for $1,499 (original retail price $2,778), and get three additional free bottles of Italian red. They’ll even chuck in a free corkscrew into the deal. Order via or call 8120 3826 and quote the promotional code ‘6449002’.


life & style Porcelain ornament (copper) $95 from Mirth M/F, B T Centre, 23 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang

Cinnamon houses $145 from TREE, two versions available Stores in Horizon Plaza, Sha Tin HomeSquare, and Sai Kung

Silver Baubles Pack $298 from Lane Crawford, Online and instore locations across Hong Kong including IFC and Pacific Place

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas... Put on some Christmas tunes and deck the halls with these fabulously festive ornaments. By Catharina Cheung Felt Robin Hanging Decoration $75 from Citta Design

Librarian Moose Hanging Decoration $115 from Citta Design

Fabric garland clothes $150 from Francfranc Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk

Pine cone-shaped glitter candles $129 for set of 6 from Zara Home Stores in Harbour City and Festival Walk


Wooden music box $520 from kikki.K Four locations across Hong Kong including Times Square and Prince’s Building

fa la la la la, la la la la! Gold line large round ceramic jar $1,090 from Bowerbird Home 8/F, 2 Lee Wing Street, Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau

Box of hanging doll ornaments $199 from Zara Home Stores in Harbour City and Festival Walk

Resin nutcracker $150 from Francfranc Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk

Hong Kong Transport hanging decorations $350 (set of four) from The Lion Rock Press and selected retailers, including all Bookazine stores

Capiz ornament star gold $80 from Francfranc, also available in pink Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk

Advent candle $95 from kikki.K Four locations across Hong Kong including Times Square and Prince’s Building Glass ornament dome tree $80 from Francfranc Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk

Candleholder with leaves and gold decorations $149 from Zara Home Stores in Harbour City and Festival Walk

Embroidery ornament Noel $120 from Francfranc Locations across Hong Kong including Cityplaza and Causeway Bay Fashion Walk


life & style Oliver’s American Noble trees from $1,198. Available for order until December 3. 201-205, 2/F Landmark Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2810 7710

P&F Garden Caballo Living With a company mission to preserve a green environment, Caballo Living is stocking European Christmas trees that can be replanted in your garden after the festive season. Choose from three types of Picea trees (60–150cm). Prices range from $300 to $1,500 with a pot included. Unit 1903, 19/F, Block A, New Trade Plaza, 6, On Ping Street, Sha Tin, 2363 1925,

Sophie’s Christmas Trees

Anglo Chinese Florist A selection of wreaths, plants and Christmas trees. Our top picks are the dried fruit, cinnamon stick, berries and pine cones wreath ($1,080); the berries, orange peels, cinnamon sticks & pine cones mini Christmas tree ($1,080); and the Poinsettia ($88). G/F, 13 Lyndhurst Terrace, 2921 2986

The Flower Market, Mong Kok During the festive season the aptly named Flower market in Mong Kok is lined with Christmas trees and other festive plants and decorations. Don’t buy too quick, shop around for the best bargain. Flower Market Road, Mong Kok, 9:30am7:30pm


Prices vary according to tree type: Douglas ($735–$3,070); Noble ($780–$2,650); Fraser ($820–$2,780). Poinsettias are available for $60–$200. 42E HA Pun Shan, Ma On Shan Tsuen, Ma On Shan, 2649 6280,

Prices for artificial trees range from $399 (155cm)–$499 (180cm). Artificial wreaths and other decorations are also available to order online or pick up in store. Locations include Upper Basement, Parklane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 10:30am-10:30pm.

Chun Hing Garden


Noble firs range from $680 (3–4ft.)–$37,950 (18–20ft.); Douglas firs from $1,050 (5–6ft.)– $2,950 (9-10ft.). Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2572 6430,, email

Simply Posh Collection 6ft. Christmas tree, $5,088 with pot/ $4,880 with metal stand Available to order online at, or in store G/F, 37 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung

Ellermann Flower Boutique

The Japanese home furnishing store is stocking several tree sizes in traditional green and pale pink. Prices range from from $500 (90cm) to $1,700 (180cm). For a hassle free option, go for the Christmas Starter Set which includes a tree (150cm), decorations and lights for $990. 173 Des Voeux Road Central, 11am-8pm, 3425 4728,

Not got the space for a full size tree? Ellermann Flower Boutique has miniature Christmas trees. Sold as part of a hamper this year ($2,600), the set includes christmas decorations such as mini baubles, gold feathers, fairy lights and more. Unit B, 15th Floor, Kwai Bo Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 2291 0388,

Xmastreeonline Real Douglas firs are the only trees available this season. Prices start at $1,088.

van der Bloom


Order yourself a sturdy Noble fir. Choose as size from 3–4ft. (90–120cm) up to 6–7ft. (182–213cm). Prices range from $890–$1,960. Delivery to Hong Kong island costs $200 (removal costs $250). Get 10 per cent off when you order more than one tree. Either complete the online form or head in store. G/F, 61 Hollywood Road, SoHo, 5505 1661,

Order a real fir tree, grown in a sustainable eco-environment. Prices are $599 for a 150cm tree and $699 for a 200cm tree, with orders open until December 18. Last delivery on December 22. Available to order at any of the IKEA stores. Locations include Upper Basement, Parklane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 10:30am-10:30pm.


Douglas firs range from $988–$1,878; Noble firs from $598–$3,288. G/F, Blk I&J, Scenic Villa, 18-20 Scenic Villa Drive, Pok Fu Lam, 2812 0948

Franc Franc

city’ super Premium supermarket city’ super’s fibre-optic Christmas trees start at $1,380 (120cm). The widest range is available online; only one model is selling in store. Ifc mall, Shops 1041-9, Central


things we'd buy Unisex personal fragrances $1,900/100 ml from Cire Trudon (five to choose from) available at Shhh G/F 94 Hollywood Road, Central, 2915 1001

Men’s shorts (various prints available) US$49 per pair from Rock Atoll (free shipping to Hong Kong)

FOR HIM Hong Kong mugs $120 from The Lion Rock Press Available at

Eco tumbler (500ml) $225 from The Lion Rock Press, 10 per cent of the price goes to the Plastic Ocean Foundation Available at and selected retailers, including all Bookazine stores







Double Happiness men’s tie $580 from Goods of Desire Shop 105, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, 22-23 Carmel Road, Stanley

PEEKair PM2.5 air quality monitor $1,398 from Peek Concepts

Lonely Planet Epic Bike Rides of the World $350 from Eslite Cityplaza, 18 Tai Koo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing

Horton double zip brief in black pebbled $5,690 from TUMI Several locations including Pacific Place, 88 Queensway


‘Des Voeux Road Fantasy’ acrylic facemounted print $19,250 by Keith Macgregor

Aberlour A’Bunadh $1,280 from Watson’s Wine outlets. Locations across Hong Kong including Shop 204, 2/F, Stanley Plaza

Creatista Plus coffee machine $4,288 (discounted price of $3,430 until January 7) from Nespresso ifc Mall, Central

Vibe 20 backpack $770 from Pacsafe Shun Tak Centre, 200 Connaught Road, Central

naughty or nice? ‘The Wet Market’ limited edition print $750 by Madeleine Bettridge, Pop up store at Live Zero, Room S102, PMQ,

Geranium body care trio Christmas gift set $590 from John Masters Organics, Multiple locations across Hong Kong including ifc mall, Central, 2117 9721

Signature thin ring with diamonds (18ct gold vermeil on sterling silver) $1,650 from Monica Vinader Multiple locations across Hong Kong including ifc mall, Central, 2117 9721

18k silver Sun and Moon bracelet $3,900 from Tunique Four locations across Hong Kong including 12 Gough Street, Central, 2896 0329

The Parisian Jewellery trunk $6,750 from Trunked Order online at, or arrange an appointment at the Mid-Levels showroom. Also available at the Four Seasons hotel boutique and select Indigo Living stores (Ap Lei Chau and Repulse Bay)

FOR HER The Mini Ottoman $1,500 from The Hallmark, Abbey Hall Interiors Available to order from

Navy blue teaware by Koichi Iinuma $1,980 for teapot and $640 for teacup from Waka Artisans PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central

Nespresso limited edition Variations Confetto coffees $67 per sleeve (10 capsules); three candy flavoured aromas (Snowball, Orangette, Liquorice) ifc Mall, Central




Amelie shower turban $300 from Apartment 49

Lonely Planet Epic Drives of the World $350 from Eslite Cityplaza, 18 Tai Koo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing



Limited edition Grand Brut Champagne by Perrier-Jouët $398 from Watson’s Wine Locations across Hong Kong including Shop 204, 2/F, Stanley Plaza

Sweetheart pink bouquet $1,280 from Crostini Order online at at least seven days in advance or in store. Locations across Hong Kong including G16, G/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay

HK Districts Tote $480 from Goods of Desire Shop 105, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, 22-23 Carmel Road, Stanley

The Ruby Book £75 from Gemfields, by Joanna Hardy. Available to order from


things we'd buy My First Tool Bench $799 from Bumps to Babes 21/F Floor Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2552 5000

Sphero R2-D2 Droid $1,198 from Toys”R”Us 2/F, ac2, Aberdeen

Letter to Santa and wishlist set $60 from kikki.K Five locations across Hong Kong including Shop 220, 2/F Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central,


Dex Dog soft toy with heartbeat $298 from Peek Concepts

Personalised kids artwork t-shirt $280 from Little Bug Prints

Hong Kong Lotto game $150 from The Lion Rock Press Available at and selected retailers, including all Bookazine stores

9-FREE nail polish and Lollips lip gloss Starting $99 from SNAILS BRICK SHOP, Shop 201D(1), L/2, Peek-a-boo, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay

Christmas Owl Zipper Footie $230 from Picked By Poppins Small cloth gift bags $70-$85 from 513 Paint Shop S513, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central Personalised Christmas dinosaur babygrow $220 from Gifts Less Ordinary

Lonely Planet Kids The Incredible Cabinet of Wonders $220 from Eslite Cityplaza, 18 Tai Koo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing

Rose Cottage $1,650 from Bumps to Babes 21/F Floor Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2552 5000


Chalkboard paint and Ironlak® chalkboard markers $380 (paint); $70-$85 (per marker) from 513 Paint Shop S513, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central,

Melamine medium cup two tone $79 each from Mirth, available in three prints 66 Yi Chun Street, Sai Kung


health & beauty

Party prep Too many social engagements to count this month? Get your party prep sorted with these handy on-demand beauty services

WeCut founder Vic Kwan gets to work

WeCut What is it? Professional and affordable hair, makeup, facial and nail services on demand. How does it work? Download the app from iTunes or Google Play. Enter the address and time, and choose a stylist. Wait for confirmation. You can also shop products at When is the latest I can book? At least three hours in advance. How much is it and how do I pay? Prices start at $190 for a blowdry to $41,800 for a full bridal makeup package. Payment is completed online once the booking is confirmed. Can I request a specific stylist? Yes. Can I book with friends? Yes. What’s the service area? Hong Kong island, Kowloon, and New Territories, except the Islands district. About the founder. Founder and CEO Vic Kwan, has been in hairdressing for over 20 years, working with brands and celebrities from around the globe.


All hands on deck at WeCut

Style Brigade

What is it? A new online platform for booking beauty services, from hair care, to nails and makeup. Book at home/mobile beauty services as well as salon appointments. How does it work? Sign up at stylebrigade. co, then choose whether you want an at home service or salon appointment. Select a service and preferred stylist or salon and the time and date of your appointment. Wait for confirmation. B







helping hands

Photo by Michelle Proctor

When is the latest I can book? At least one hour in advance. How much is it and how do I pay? Prices start at about $600 for haircuts to $3,000 for hair straightening treatments. Pay online—your card will be charged after the appointment is complete. Can I request a specific person for the appointment? Yes. Can I book with friends? There will be an online group booking option soon, but for now group bookings can be made via email or phone. What’s the service area? The salons are located in Central, with a Causeway Bay branch in the works, but mobile beauty services can travel to most areas of Hong Kong. About the founders. Founders Mansi Shah (a consultant) and Kathy Lee (a professional hair stylist at Toni & Guy) met last year through a mutual friend and launched StyleBrigade in August 2017. Both wanted to build a platform to improve access to premium beauty services. When you need to sneeze but someone is doing your lipstick

Photo by Michelle Proctor

How much is it and how do I pay? Prices start at $330 for a blowout to $1,100 to makeup lessons. You will be charged via credit card at the time of booking. Can I request a specific person for the appointment? No, but all are professionals and have been selected after interviews and trials. Can I book with friends? Yes. Email support@ or use the online contact form What’s the service area? Central, Mid-Levels, Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun, Kennedy Town, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Happy Valley. If you are outside the service area, Sponge will do its best to accommodate. About the founder. Founder Diane Younes, a former New York lawyer, created the business during her first year in Hong Kong. She launched it in just four months.

diyi Kathy Lee and Mansi Shah, founders of StyleBrigade

Sponge What is it? Sponge provides access to handpicked independent beauty professionals wherever you are in Hong Kong: be it your home, office, hotel or an event. Choose from hair, makeup, makeup lessons and eyelash extensions—we’re told more services are being added soon. How does it work? Create an account at Select a service or customisable look from the menu, plus a date, time and location. Have a cuppa and wait for the experts to arrive! When is the latest I can book? Book up to 30 days and at least six hours in advance

What is it? Search and book curated massage and beauty services near you. Choose from foot and body massages, to manicures and facial treatments. How does it work? Download the app from iTunes or Google Play to see what is around you right now and at what price. Select the service you want and a map will direct you to the provider. Afterwards, you can leave comments or ratings and get the chance to win the same treatment in a weekly competition. When is the latest I can book? diyi is a realtime app, so customers can make bookings as long as the centres are open. How much is it and how do I pay? Prices vary and are set by the centres. Can I request a specific person for the

Diane Younes, founder of Sponge

appointment? This feature is soon to come. Right now diyi only allows customers to select a female or male therapist. Can I book with friends? Yes, just input a head count. What’s the service area? Hong Kong Island plus Tsim Sha Tsui and parts of Kowloon. About the founder. AJ Halkes, a long-term Hong Kong resident, was frustrated with how ineffective and difficult it was to search for and book therapy and beauty services nearby, so he decided to build a hyperlocal real-time solution, and diyi was born.


big day out

SHARP ISLAND Tara Smyth escapes Christmas fever by heading to the hills


Tara and the dogs on the Tombolo

t’s December! The festive season is upon us. The shops are bulging with Christmas shoppers and the restaurants are busy throwing Christmas parties. Not to mention, the kids are off school and grandma is on her way. Time to escape the city, and hit some trails. This walk is perfect for small children, the dog and moderately fit septuagenarians. I would even go so far as to say that, if you have a hunk of a hubby, he could probably manage the baby buggy on this trail, provided it has all-terrain wheels. This Big Day Out starts at Sai Kung waterfront. Here, sampan and kaito companies vie for your business, offering trips to the many outlying islands. We used “Kitty’s” service to Sharp Island, but there are others. Prices are roughly $30-$40 per person for a round trip. Kaitos and sampans run regularly from 9am to 6pm—I imagine the frequency depends upon

Foxy on Kitty’s dog friendly boat


high season versus low season and weekdays versus weekends. Once aboard, the journey takes about 10-15 minutes. You will first arrive at Kiu Tsui Beach pier where you should disembark. If you are lucky enough to catch the low tide you will be able to see the ‘tombolo’ which connects Sharp Island to the nearby Kiu Tau islet. A tombolo is a naturally-formed sand and pebble “bridge” that links two land masses, due to the waves coming and going over time. It’s absolutely worth walking across the tombolo (even if the tide is starting to come in and you have to get your feet a little wet, like we did!) as the rock formations are fascinating. Pebbles of rich varying colours catch the eye as the clear waters wash over them. You will also see the aptly nick-named “pineapple bun” boulders that are in fact a result of volcanic activity some 140 million years ago. Once across the other side you can follow the short path to the hilltop lookout and look back over Sharp Island. We did not do this, however, as the tide was coming in and we did not wish to become stranded. Do be careful! After exploring the tombolo (and the islet of Kiu Tau if the tide allows), return to the beach from which you came and head right. Here you will see a concrete path leading to some steps heading up into the jungle. The steps go on for a while, but are not too bad. Take snacks to help the little ones along and

hopefully hunky hubby with the all-terrain buggy won’t lose the will to live too quickly. Eventually, the steps will give way to a dirt path with interesting flora on either side. Look over the top of the ferns and grasses and you’ll start to see the sweeping views of Sai Kung to your right and the golf course on Kau Sai Chau to your left. Continue along for a further 750 metres before reaching the high point. There is a small pagoda here where you can rest, take in the views and look down on the crystal clear waters of Hap Mun Bay, before commencing the final descent to sea level.

The pineapple bun volcanic rocks

fix up, look sharp

On the Tombolo reaching the Islet, with the tide coming in

At Hap Mun Bay

As you approach Hap Mun Bay you will see a plethora of BBQ pits set in a grassy area. It’s almost characteristic of a campsite in the South of France, and you may wish to stop here and tuck into your picnic. There are toilets just up to the left of these BBQ pits, but note there is no running water in the vicinity. Instead, head to the beach on your right and you will be rewarded with clean facilities both for relieving oneself and washing one’s hands. Now it’s time to enjoy the pristine beach that is Hap Mun Bay. Kick off your shoes—

Kitty’s boat

even in December—and enjoy the fine white sand between your toes. Clamber amongst the volcanic rocks and if December treats us kindly this year, maybe even take a dip. Should you choose to visit in the summer, lifeguards will be on duty and a refreshment kiosk will be open. During the winter the beach is quiet and no lifeguards are present, but there were some cheerful lap sap ladies on hand keeping the beach and BBQ pits pristine. Once you are done with the beach you have two choices. Either retrace your steps all the way back to Kiu Tsui or head to the pier on Hap Mun Bay itself and await a sampan or kaito to pick you up and take you back to Sai Kung. This is a perfect day out for the festive season and once back in the Kung, hunky hubby can reward himself with an ice cold beer, the kids can run amok in Sai Kung Square and mummy and grandma can deliberate over whether to go for the Chardonnay or the Sauvignon Blanc! Tara Smyth runs photography company Nitty Gritty Images. For details, visit



SYTSKE KIMMAN The passionate sailor and business woman reflects on 40 years in Hong Kong. By Catharina Cheung Tell us a bit about your life before Hong Kong. Sailing has always been in my blood. I’m the youngest of six children. Our parents had a big boat but we all also had our own little dinghies that we would sail by ourselves. We’d meet back at the big boat each day for lunch. Each week the captain would buy something like 300 bread rolls! There’s no lack of sandwiches in Holland; he’d prepare all the sandwiches on Saturday morning and by the time we left on Sunday they’d all be gone. We all loved him. Later on, I sailed with some girlfriends up in the north of Holland, and there I saw a big wooden flat bottom. I totally fell in love with it, so in the wintertime, I skipped school and hitchhiked to another place where they were doing up these boats. I worked on one of them throughout winter, turning up whenever I could hitch a ride. My parents died when I was very young, so nobody dared to ask where I was. The next summer, I was help skipper and when the skipper didn’t turn up, I was promoted to the role. It was a charter boat, manned by 12 to 15 people who would all sleep onboard.


From there, I started off-shore sailing and became one of the first Dutch women to become a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. You have a team of people from all walks of life and you just have to make it work with each other. In any group, you’ll always get one joker, one industrious person, one person who always seems to be sleeping or not around when you need them!

I sailed with some Holland, and there I saw a big wooden flat bottom. I totally fell in love with it

For a very short period I worked in a law firm, but that didn’t go over well as every weekend

I’d be off to sail in England. In the beginning there was a plane that would leave very early on Monday morning but that service stopped after a while, so I couldn’t get back before twelve, and if you were the youngest in a law firm, that sort of behaviour was not appreciated at all! I left before I properly got into trouble. I moved to England thinking to myself, “It will be so easy to get a job because none of the English speak foreign languages and I speak four others. This will be my sailing Valhalla!”, but nobody even wanted to interview me. I did eventually get a job. I also came to know Bart, who would become my husband, through sailing. It was a very male dominated world in those days, but it’s great that there are now increasingly more Chinese women sailing. Last year I had a group who wanted to charter for the King’s Cup in Phuket, but they only wanted to be photographed. But this year, for example, a certain Tina Gong is coming with her group from Shanghai, and throughout the summer she’s sent me pictures of her racing in Scandinavia and at the China Cup. She’s only been sailing for four years, but she’s so enthusiastic.

on the water

I initiated a couple of women’s races a long time ago, we did the Four Peaks Race twice with a female crew––lots of fun. I think women are more prone to helping each other. Even though there are many aspects of sailing which require strength, we tend simply to borrow on the power of the right moment or find a simpler way to accomplish the goal.

What made you move to Hong Kong? Bart was invited to a wedding here, I think in 1983, so we flew over for three days—crazy! It was my first time in Hong Kong and it was such fun. By Friday, I had already been invited by somebody I met to go to his boat and sail from Aberdeen. A lot of the parties were at the yacht club, and I thought “this is perfect––there’s no winter season here so it’s year round sailing!” In 1985 after we got married, Bart was asked to become managing director of a bank here. By then we had been living in London for six years. I was so eager to get packing!

When did you start to live on a boat? My father-in-law, who used to have a shipyard, designed a fifty-five foot steel houseboat that was also seaworthy for coastal passages (if your vessel was fifty-six foot your berthing fees were much higher). We had it built 1,600 miles up the Yangtse River at a Dutch commercial shipyard which had just taken off with 6,000 employees. There was a lot of improvisation involved—the first time we visited we had to row into the building on the first floor because the river had gone beyond its banks and nobody had taken precautions, despite it occuring every year. Regardless, they did a good job in the end, and we just can’t believe we had that boat built for only about US$40,000 when nowadays it would cost well over a million. We lived on it for twenty four years at Discovery Bay. It was endless fun— my daughter loved sailing too and we’d take her and her girlfriends out on it for weekends and

sleepovers. One Christmas we hosted a party onboard out in Middle Island. We’d invited close to ninety people and Bart had told this bunch of teenage girls who all had long flowing hair that they could shower onboard. The second person who showered ended up using all our water!

What motivated your love of sailing? What really attracts me to sailing is the fact that you have to be in total control, and you always have to have a Plan B and C. You always have to know the tides, the winds, the weather forecast, the nearby harbours, and exactly what to do for specific injuries that might occur. It sounds intimidating, but it becomes second nature. Every detail can be planned. You are dependant on yourself and your own preparations, there’s nobody else to blame. I love living under my own responsibility and leadership, where there are no rules apart from my own.

What was life like in Hong Kong? In the beginning it was your typical expat life: we had a big house in Stanley, then a beautiful flat on Repulse Bay Road, and we also lived up near the Peak for a while. We moved around because we were finishing up our friends’ leases included in their ridiculous expat packages. I had a really interesting job but the board of directors came down hard on me because they didn’t like that the boss’ wife was working––I suppose I should have just been organising coffee mornings. The bank wanted him on the board of directors back in Holland, but we decided to stay here instead and set up our own financial services company. Until five years ago, that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m still a partner at a financial company. Bart did a lot of consulting jobs. He started professionally yachting fifteen years ago.


interview I also love the water, and I love helping people fall in love with it too. Nowadays, it’s much easier to enter into watersports now than it used to be. There’s paddleboarding, surfing, you see so many young people in Lantau and Cheung Chau going kiting. I’m sixty three but I want to learn kiting as well! Bart and I went to France last year for the boat shows, and in the week between Cannes and Monaco there was a guy sitting next to me at dinner with a grin from ear to ear. I got chatting to him and he said he’d found the new love of his life—kite surfing!

What is the most beautiful place you’ve been to on your yachting trips? Definitely the Philippines and Indonesia. Lots of brokers still feel that there’s a pirate lurking behind every rock in the Philippines, but it’s beautiful there and the people are lovely. I haven’t even been everywhere in the Philippines yet, but I’d say it’s nicest near Coron. Indonesia is great for cruising, though there’s often not enough wind for sailing. There’s a group of islands called the Anambas islands only about 180 miles from Singapore, which is gorgeous. In Hong Kong there’s so much beauty. Tai Tam Bay, Snake Bay, near Sai Kung country park. The Soko Islands in the direction of Macau are great, I think there’s only one person currently living there. Sunshine Island opposite Discovery Bay too. Hong Kong is beautiful by boat. You can easily rent a sampan for the day. There’s so much more to see than the usual junk spots. Although, if you go to South Bay or Repulse Bay on a random Tuesday, it’s still lovely.

What is your favourite secret spot here? When you walk from Discovery Bay to Silver Mine Bay, there’s a little bay with one house and hardly anyone around there and it’s just peaceful and beautiful.

People were coming out onto the beach really angry at us!

was nobody else around so I was basically nude on deck. Then I saw a guy coming across the water towards me, like Jesus, but shouting something. I quickly put on a sarong and for a moment I was quite scared but I couldn’t just leave the rudder. It turned out to be a fisherman who was warning me I was about to sail into his nets. He was on this tiny little bunker which I couldn’t see because of the waves!

Any funny anecdotes from your travels?

Why did you choose to live on a yacht?

When my sister and I were in Greece, we anchored in a very local bay overnight. Next morning, we hoisted up our anchors which were pretty heavy, and I said to my sister, “Look at all these unmanned little boats all coming with us!” What had actually happened was that our anchor had gone underneath the main anchor for the village boats, so as we hoisted it we had pulled everyone else’s along! People were coming out onto the beach really angry at us! Another time, we were sailing our boat back from the Philippines. It was early morning, there

When we were living in Pok Fu Lam, my fatherin-law visited and said, “your daughter is growing up in concrete!” It hit me then that he was right. I had a lot of friends living in Discovery Bay so one Saturday I decided to go and see it for myself. Since everyone was so nice and always inviting me for barbecues, I thought I’ll do it the Dutch way and just show up without an appointment. The community at the Peak and Stanley were very English, you needed to tell them you were showing up at a certain time, and as a Dutch that was a very different thing to get used to. The community in Discovery Bay was so welcoming, it was very much my sort of vibe—like a small cul de sac where even if you’re not close with everyone you’d know if someone is celebrating or in the hospital. If someone was back from holiday you’d go and ask how it was. When we were in Pok Fu Lam it felt too anonymous.

What’s the best thing about your lifestyle? I love the freedom. I can’t exactly afford a house on the Peak, and I don’t really want to. Here I have a community, and where else in Hong Kong can you get such space for an affordable amount of money? The water gives me peace of mind. In the mornings when I wake up, the first thing I usually see is the reflection of water flickering on my ceiling. It’s always alive here. When we were based in Discovery Bay, for a long time we were one of the very few liveaboards there and the water was so clean there were seahorses that we could just bucket up, there was a ray living in the marina, there


on the water were also two turtles who regularly returned to the marina as well. Then slowly it started filling up. So many pilots came in because Cathay pay them a housing allowance. Other people chose to buy houseboats because they didn’t have a permanent ID card yet. If you buy real estate without permanent residency you have to pay stamp duty but it doesn’t apply to houseboats as movable estate. I don’t need a big garden, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I love that I can just go on my dinghy and paddleboard when I feel like it. When you live in a marina or harbour it’s such a nice community and everybody is always there to help. When there’s a typhoon warning, we check on each other’s boats; if we see somebody’s been late taking down their awning we go and help. On a boat, every inch is being used, it’s very efficient living. I love all those silly nooks and funny little hallways.

Any advice for those who might want to do the same thing?

I can’t exactly afford a house on the Peak and I don’t really want to

I’d say, owning your own home is different to renting a place, and being on a boat gives you so much more freedom. On the other hand, you have to be prepared for constant maintenance. Once every two years, you have to move out of your house so it can go to the shipyard. If you only need the underwater

paint done, then it’s just three days, but if a lot needs doing it might take over a month. The licensing situation here is also kind of in a shambles. The Marine Department has given out some 15,000 licenses when there are only 9,000 moorings––what’s going to happen to the other 6,000? But honestly, I can see so many more advantages than disadvantages. If you want to enjoy life fully, live on a yacht.





hong kong horoscopes

AQUARIUS Jan 21 – Feb 19

PISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

ARIES Mar 21 – Apr 20

TAURUS Apr 21 – May 21

Tiger Balm Garden in Tai Hang was once a place of wonders. It was a landscaped garden full of weird and wonderful statues, from frolicking mermaids to vast Buddhist dioramas. It was a place of imagination and adventure, but tragically it was demolished in 2004. Aquarius, think of yourself as a Tiger Balm Garden: entertaining, a little weird, and continually full of surprises.

Possession Street in Sheung Wan marks the former location of Possession Point—the spit of land on which Commodore James Bremer took formal possession of Hong Kong in 1841. The harbour has long since been filled in, but the street exists to remind us of this historic spot. Where would you stake your claim, Pisces? Maybe it’s time you did so, before someone else gets there first.

Sham Shui Po is crammed full of textile shops offering bolts of cloth from all around the world. There’s so much choice, but it can be disorienting to a newcomer. So bear in mind that fabrics, like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. It’s OK to ask for advice. Hint: I’m not necessarily talking about textiles any more. Hint #2: I’m talking about love.

Ocean Park and Disneyland both put on a nightly fireworks show as the parks close for the night. The lights arc into the sky, bringing a little extra joy into the hearts of the kids headed home. Think of those nightly fireworks, Taurus. Think of all that brilliance in the sky, and all the people it’s making happy. That’s the power of light.

LEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

VIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 23

LIBRA Sep 24 – Oct 23

SCORPIO Oct 24 – Nov 22

What kind of Hong Kong bruncher are you? Are you the all-in $700 champagneand-lobster sort? A $168 eggs Benedict kind of person? Or will a few baskets of dim sum suit you just fine? No matter how you choose to eat, make sure that you’re surrounded by good food and good company. Everything else is immaterial, although I have to admit that a glass of bubbles makes even chicken feet taste better.

At the Wishing Trees of Lam Tsuen village, near Tai Po, visitors throw wishes tied to oranges into the branches of the trees. If a wish hangs on a branch, then it’ll come true. But you don’t need to go out to Tai Po to make a wish, Virgo. I’ll let you make one in the pages of this very magazine. I hope it comes true, Virgo. What can you do to help it along?

The little island of Yim Tin Tsai in Sai Kung was settled by the Hakka people in the 19th century. At one point it housed 500 people, a school and a chapel. The chapel still stands, but over time the population dwindled—and for years the island was abandoned. But now the island is bustling again as a heritage and ecotourism destination. Time and change are difficult things, but if Yim Tin Tsai can weather it, so can you.

The weather’s lovely! It’s time to call up the boat boy, get the cruiser ready, and set a course for the open sea. Wait, you don’t own a superyacht? Oh, sorry. No problem, though—just jump on the Star Ferry to feel the wind in your hair. After all, there’s a solution for every price point in Hong Kong. Stay flexible enough to find it, and you’ll fare all the better.

As transmitted to Adam White, writer, editor and occasional soothsayer. 70 | SOUTHSIDE.HK

GEMINI May 22 – Jun 21

CANCER Jun 22 – Jul 22

Hong Kong is a place of specialization. Especially when it comes to tech, there’s a special mall for everything: cameras, computers, phones, video games… you name it, there’s a mall for it. You should take inspiration from them, Gemini. Find your own specialization, the thing that makes you unique. Soon enough you’ll have more attention than the Wan Chai Computer Centre.

Had a few heavy nights out, huh? Well, this is Hong Kong, what did you expect? But it’s how you deal with it afterwards that’s key. My tried-and-tested remedy: Water, painkillers, apologies, usually in that order. Then think about this: what was the best bit of your night out, before it got messy? That’s what to recapture. Throw everything else by the wayside. Oh, and stop ordering Jägerbombs.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 23 – Dec 21

CAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 20

Tsat Tsz Mui Road— “Seven Sisters Road”—in North Point takes its name from a tragic story. Seven girls in a village of Hakka people pledged to be virginal sisters forever, never to marry. When one of the sisters was forced into marriage, all seven sisters drowned themselves in the sea. The next day, seven rocks appeared off the coast. It’s a sad tale, but isn’t the loyalty on show something we can all take to heart?

Last month my ID card of 10 years snapped in two, so I had to go to the Immigration Department to get a new one. Handing me my new card, the immigration department official said to me: “wahh, you’re a lot more handsome now!” An ego boost with an ID card? Now that’s service. And it’s a lesson that your identity is what you make of it: change it if you’d like.


What’s my job?

zim city

The latest green issues affecting our city.

“What do you do as a District Councillor?” Paul Zimmerman answers


hat do you do as a District Councillor?” Well, there are the fun things—influencing the planning for the district. Sometimes that is easy—with submissions and comments in the District Council and the Town Planning Board. When it is not, more creative means are needed. For example, take the Tai Tam Reservoir Dam. For years we have asked for a simple solution to the traffic problem: traffic lights. But risk of unintended consequences paralyses bureaucrats. To break such a mould you either need a bad accident, or great publicity. Enter Scott Myklebust. He rendered stunning visuals of a second bridge which were picked up by the media. And a drone pilot recorded some bad traffic jams with a Tesla driver unable to pass a bus. This combination got us to the stage where a set of traffic lights was tested last month, in advance of permanent installation next year. Another example is the clean-up of Aberdeen Harbour. A group came together via emails and Facebook and by reaching out to interested parties. We agreed on a name, created a banner, a Facebook page, and met five times over a year to ‘fish trash’. In response, the government is now devoting more resources into keeping the harbour clean itself. If all goes well, we will not have to fish again. Which is a pity, because cruising around in all manner of boats, meeting new friends, was a lot of fun. And then there is the hard work—dealing with reports of traffic problems, transport deficiencies, leaking trucks, fly-tipping, poorly managed refuse collection points, overpopulation of wild boars, illegal parking causing road safety issues, land filling, cutting trees, illegal road building, etc... Reports come not only from residents in my own district, but also others looking for advice. Let me use this


Paul at a charity collection last month in Cyberport

column to provide some tips on self-help. First of all, government hotline is very efficient in trafficking complaints. Most importantly, it keeps a record and monitors the response rate of departments. The best way to get help is to send photographs as attachments. Instead of a thousand words, simply provide the time, date, and location (street name, and house or lamp post number) and a simple description of the issue. Specify the department to forward the report to if you know. Some useful tools: allows you to find lamp post and house numbers. helps you find out about land use zoning. hk gives clear information on slope responsibilities and lot boundaries. And map/ helps to identify village boundaries. Of course, you can always email me at paul@designinghongkong. com or connect via Facebook at P.S. Best wishes for the festive season ahead.

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

“As a pet owner, what should I be careful of during this festive season?” Festive periods present many potential hazards for our pets. Most visits to emergency veterinary treatment clinics are caused by things dogs or cats eat. • GOODIES Holiday goodies include foods with high fat content, excellent at causing upset tummies. Raisins, grapes and onions are toxic to our small pets leading to blood abnormalities and renal failure. Sweet items that contain artificial sweeteners can be toxic, and chocolate leads to seizures and heart problems. • DECORATIONS Flowers and plants are also dangerous to our pets. Lilies—all parts of them—are fatal to cats, causing renal failure; mistletoe causes diarrhoea; and the poinsettia—often in abundance around this time—can cause mild irritation to lips and mucous membranes in addition to gastroenteritis. Anxious animals upset by the “going-ons” around them may turn to objects to chew to release their stress. These objects can include cables and cords of festive lights or lanterns, paper and candles. • VISITORS When strangers come around, and in particular if your dog or cat isn’t used to visitors, it is a good idea to shut your pet away in a safe room, cage or basket. They will be much happier and you can relax too. • CLIMATE And remember, as the weather gets colder our pets feel the difference in temperature too. They can get hypothermia so they need warm shelters at all times and fresh clean water every day. Finally, be sensible letting pets access other potential poisons, cleaning detergents and chemicals you may use. The classic one—uncommon, I’m pleased to say, in Hong Kong— is anti-freeze, which attracts animals to lick it leading again to renal failure. Hopefully, if you keep these hazards in mind and away from your pets, you will all have a great holiday.

Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email 74 | SOUTHSIDE.HK



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Mrs Backfire


Opinions, rants and random outbursts. On the rocks, please.

Does Hong Kong make you softer or harder?


ne Spring, when our helper left on her annual holiday, I started tweeting funny/ sad comments about how domestically useless I’d become. How does a toilet brush work? Could Siri make me a curry? Top tip: activate cat tongues to help clean up bacon grease! It was all meant in jest, but it did remind me that in the home-care department I am soft, soft, soft. I cannot remember the last time I ironed a shirt. Though I’m quite capable at walking the dog, roasting a leg of lamb and cleaning up cat puke (turns out too much bacon grease is not a good thing), on weekdays around dinnertime, I’m more likely to be playing Words With Friends than chopping salad and boiling water for pasta. Overseas readers, yes, this is true. Cue the shame feels. With affordable domestic help, fantastic public transport and a generous number of statutory holidays (twelve plus the odd typhoon-day-off-work), Hong Kong offers a lot to ease life’s daily struggles. While we’re not quite frivolous Kitty’s from The Painted Veil, all afternoon teas on the veranda, we do enjoy amenities that our friends and family back home can’t imagine. But is life in Hong Kong really as comfortable and undemanding as it seems? Hardly. According to my Sisters-In-Sport*, that’s just one side of our story. Turns out we Hongkongers are not all pampered creatures in captivity, unable to survive in the wild. We are job-hopping, elbow-throwing, taxi-stealing, resourceful, transient types. Classic ‘I got mine’ folks always looking out for the best deal, whether it’s a choice between two flat-shares in Sai Ying Pun or competing social engagements. When I posed the headline question to my Sisters, one said that Hong Kong is less about people who really have your back. Another ranted that people here protect themselves first. “I’m not going to do anything that disadvantages me,” she said of the local mentality. Isn’t that big city life full stop? I wondered. I’ve spent plenty of time in two of America’s biggest


cities—Los Angeles and Houston—and I can tell you that drivers there are fierce and ferocious. Intimidation multiplied by six lanes of freeway. In comparison, Hongkongers behind the wheel are kittens. Often clueless, annoying kittens, but kittens nonetheless. One of my Sisters, who moved to New York City as a naïve, young woman, said that Big Apple toughness comes primarily from overcoming financial odds in a place that’s expensive and demanding. So when you make it, she explained, your identity has been toughened— and burnished—by achievement as much as circumstance. But with so many people coming to Hong Kong on employment contracts, the success side of our equation is already a given. What’s left then? An overcrowded place with finite resources, as one of my Sisters said, and a government that doesn’t always encourage civic generosity. Are we really a 21st century version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle? Perhaps what we need are new Hong Kong-specific definitions of what it means to be soft and hard. I’ll cop to a certain expat-y softness because, luckily, I don’t have to deal with many woes that my Western friends face: long commutes, expensive childcare, soap scum! But I can also say that we work hard for that privilege. So, call it a softysetting of priorities. And my hardness? My lack of give? That has evolved after innumerable walks through crowded Central while late for a dentist’s appointment combined with many years of tearful goodbyes to dear friends. Outta my way! Don’t go! We put up our tough fronts because, on a daily basis, we’re just in a hurry to get from A to B. But, in another deeper way, our Hong Kong sturdiness—go ahead and call it rudeness—is borne from years of watching our communities, like our landscapes, come and go. Call it a survival mechanism of the fittest. *a group of ladies, mostly younger than me, whom I train, play and drink with.


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