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February 2018

5 steps to

renovation success

Self defence BJJ revolution hits HK

Be beautiful

Vampire facials and the treatments that work


things to do

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Mid-levels The really useful magazine


February 2018



Skin treatments for a better beauty canvas

A round-up of happenings in February



Fab things to win


Fall in love with these Valentine’s gifts




Protecting Instagram Pier

Jennifer Frisinger on the latest green issues affecting the city

HKCA: An international school with a local feel



The ‘Godfather’ of HK movie posters

Riding through Mongolia



Romantic dinners and anti-Valentine’s feasts

The art of self defence



5 steps to renovation success


Taking charge of your finances





editor’s letter



ung Hei Fat Choi. One of the best parts about living in Hong Kong is getting a second chance to start the year again. If you’ve slid off the wagon, now’s your chance to reset your intention and get back on track. This month we tapped into our network of Mid-level’s experts to share advice about a few facets of life you might be working on this year. If creating a dream home is on your 2018 wish list, then you’ve opened the right magazine. Head to page 22 and take some inspiration from Interior Designer Joseph Chang. After driving some of the Peak’s most perfect renovations, he’s kindly shared expert tips on how to run a successful renovation project. We also sat down with Justine Grier, Hong Kong’s famous skin whisperer, to get some inspiration on renovating your complexion. If you’re looking for skinspiration for a make-up free summer, flip through to page 28. Safe travels to those who are escaping the city for CNY. If you’re still looking for something to do, there’s loads happening in Hong Kong, or a ferry-rideaway in Macau. Flip through the planner or our dining guide for some thought starters.



Managing editor Eric Ho, Editor Rebecca Simpson, Contributing editor Carolynne Dear, Media trainee Gemma Shaw,


Design manager Cindy Suen, Graphic designer Anna Schulteisz,

Sales & Marketing

Sales director Hilda Chan, Sales & Marketing executive Kiran Hiranandani, Isamonia Chui, Corrie Tang, Johnny Wong,


Management trainee Charles Lau,


Digital co-ordinator Cora Chan,



Tom Hilditch,

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong

Kishan Karia

Gemma Shaw

Yasmin Hingun a Wealth Manager at St James’s Place in Hong Kong. He has over eleven years of experience in the financial services helping expat clients with saving and investing, protection and retirement. Originally from London, Kishan has been enjoying hiking in Hong Kong and loves to go running, playing football and squash.

... moved to Hong Kong 6 months ago after living in Vietnam and Singapore. Originally from the UK, outside of writing Gemma is also a fully qualified yoga teacher, and studies lingerie design. She loves the latest health trend as well as the occasional glass of Champagne and cooking for friends at home.

...moved to Hong Kong from Darjeeling when she was exactly two months old. She loves asking lots of questions, being silly, drinking tea and re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yasmin is very culturally confused and descends into panic whenever she is asked “Where are you from?”

Want to write for Mid-levels Magazine? Contact 2 |

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

HONG KONG Mid-levels Magazine is published by Hong Kong Living Ltd. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Mid-levels Magazine cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or pubishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. | 3

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what's on


Get inspired at Chanel’s exhibition, Mademoiselle Privé, in PMQ

Diary dates | 5

what's on UNTIL FEB 2

StartMeUp Week Last year, Elon Musk set the city abuzz as the show stopping speaker for Hong Kong’s first startup week. Back for its second year, StartMeUp Week brings together entrepreneurs, innovators and investors from our city and around the world. The festival has lined up a fintech convention, a healthtech summit, an IoT summit and more. Most events take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai. Head to to learn more.

UNTIL FEB 11 KidsFest 2018

Editor's pick


Mademoiselle Privé Get inspired by the decades of daring conversations Chanel has brought to modern culture. Be quick to catch the tail end of Chanel’s exhibition, Mademoiselle Privé, in PMQ. Classic Chanel pieces will be on display including Karl Lagerfeld’s Haute Couture, the Chanel No. 5 fragrance and a re-edition of Gabrielle Chanel’s 1932 Bijoux de Diamants jewellery collection. If none of that sentence made sense to you, head over to learn about the history of Chanel through the exhibition’s technological twist. Free admission. PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central

This kids extravaganza continues into its final month for this year. February offers the prehistoric spectacle Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, the heartwarming Lost and Found, upbeat and colourful What the Ladybird Heard and Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns. The festival’s productions mainly feature energetic casts from the UK, and also involve an Australian cast and crew. Tickets cost from $195 to $435, shows are held at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Available at or call 3128 8288.



In partnership with the Magritte Foundation Belgium, Swire Properties and art book publisher Ludion, ArtisTree in Taikoo Place will host an exhibition of 132 original photographs and eight films by the influential 20th century surrealist artist. Chief curator to this exhibition, Xavier Canonne, oversees the world tour of this exhibition which includes Asia, South America, USA and Europe. Look out for the original photograph of The Shadow and Its Shadow (L’ombre et son ombre), 1932 - a photograph of René and his wife, Georgette. Chief curator Xavier Canonne explains, “This is perhaps my favourite photograph of the whole exhibition because it portrays love in a Surrealist’s mind - two heads making only one head. Free admission. 10am-8pm. ArtisTree, 1/F Cambridge House, Taikoo Place. More information at

Enjoy the last month of this well-loved carnival. AIA brings back classic amusement park rides,

René Magritte: The Revealing Image – Photos and Films


MOViE MOViE Life is Art Festival Hong Kong’s one and only international art house movie channel is hosting its third ‘Life is Art’ film festival. Until Feb 11, MOViE MOViE will be screening films focusing on those who have devoted their lives to the arts. Films include ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin in Dancer, urban planning activist Jane Jacobs in Citizen Jane and a screening of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s modern day revival of Titus Andronicus. Tickets $95, Cityplaza, 5/F, 18 Taikoo Shing Road, Taikoo Shing. To purchase and for more information click the long yellow tab to the right of the webpage at and look for the ‘Life is Art’ labelled films.

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For the whole family: AIA The Great European Carnival

FEB 2-9

India by the Bay Come and indulge in all things India - the food, the culture, the arts, the discourse. Join this vibrant week-long event that includes Bollywood dance workshops; a talk with Victoria and Abdul author Shrabani Basu; a gala Parsi wedding dinner by Chef Anahita S. Dhondy paired with an exploration of the community’s legacy in Hong Kong; a Family Day; and lots more. For one week, India’s rich, diverse culture will be shared with the public with most activities held at Asia Society, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty. For bookings and all the info visit


Let the Children Bloom Charity Concert Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) and Mayaa Hong Kong, two child-focused organisations, are joining hands to produce a charity concert, following the success of their first show last year. PSE works to provide healthcare, education and vocational training for Cambodian children. Similarly, Mayaa Hong Kong sponsors students in Nepal, and sets up monthly health camps in deprived Kathmandu districts. Let the Children Bloom will feature choral music as well as instrumental duos. Doors open at 7pm. St. Margaret’s Concert Hall, 2A Broadwood Road, Leighton Hill, Happy Valley. Tickets are priced at $280 on

FEB 9-11

Longines Masters of Hong Kong The event that has reinvented show jumping returns to Hong Kong for its sixth year, bringing the best and brightest in the equestrian world to our city. Asia World Expo is the second stop in this three-part masters series, after Paris and before New York. Standard seats from $250, or trade up and grab New York Lounge or Paris Suite tickets which include free flow champagne, a three course dinner buffet and a premium viewing experience. Asia World Expo. Tickets available at


The Hive CoFarm Open Day The Hive CoFarm opens its doors to the public, showcasing innovative Agritech, community gardens and permaculture. The open day even offers a farmer’s market with locally grown produce and urban farming workshops. Handicraft stalls, workshops and art happenings will make the day a lively event. Grab a shuttle from Hive Kennedy Town to the Hive CoFarm between 12-3pm. Open day 12-4pm. DD129 Lot 1290, New Territory, Yuen Long. For more information contact

A Midsummer Night’s Dream performance Support the city’s budding young performers in Faust International Youth Theatre’s reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s finest comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 7:30pm from Thursday to Saturday, matinee showings at 2:30pm on Saturday, 11am and 2:30pm on Sunday. $275 for standard tickets, $225 for students. Tickets are available for purchase on Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road, Wan Chai.

FEB 8-11

Photo by Ines Laimins

a fun house, game stalls, food stands, and live music. It’s hard to miss the gigantic red and yellow tent, home to the lively Great Circus of Europe. You’ll find motorcyclists, gymnasts and high wire performers inside.11am-11pm. Central Harbourfront event space. Tickets $40-$130 online at or onsite.

what's on | 7

what's on

Free Fitness Fun


The November Project is a fitness movement born in Boston that provides free, regular workout meetups. In Hong Kong, participants meet at the fountain in Sun Yat Sun Memorial Park for a 6km run on Mondays at 6:30am. Can’t handle a Monday morning start? On Wednesdays at 7am at the same venue, the group leads a full body workout. Plus, on Fridays they offer a 7am stair workout on Tai Ping Shan Street. All you have to do is show up! Just the Facebook group November Project Hong Kong at and shoot them a message for more info.

FEB 10

South Island Art Discovery Walk Hong Kong has a surprising amount of art to offer, and if you have no idea where to find it, this tour might be a good place to start. Head southside for this two and a half hour walk, led by Accidental Art, which centres around Wong Chuk Hang and takes place on a monthly basis. Visitors are taken to art galleries, artist studios and sites of notable street art. Note that there are two time slots every month; the 2pm session is usually in English. Discovery Walk tickets priced at $400. To learn more visit or book at

FEB 12-MAR 1

For the kids: ​​Mulberry House CNY Camp The Mulberry House is hosting a Chinese New Year camp, which will get children engaged in the festivities while learning Mandarin. Based in Central and One Island South, Mulberry House’s experienced preschool teachers will guide your children through a Chinese-themed journey exploring traditional arts and crafts, calligraphy, music and dance, dumpling cooking and storytelling. Suitable for

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what's on of all ages, from Hong Kong and abroad, will be racing around Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Stanley Bay and Tai Tam Bay. The event is currently looking for volunteers, so if you have a passion for water sports and you’re interested in helping out, fill out the registration form at


The 46th HK Arts Festival This year’s Arts Festival features 1,700 local and international artists from the worlds of dance, opera, theatre, music and more. Highlights include the National Theatre of Great Britain’s performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Ballet Zürich’s Anna Karenina and the famous Cantonese opera piece Farewell My Concubine. As usual, the festival calendar is full of performances from all around the world. Tickets priced from $140. Held at various locations including Hong Kong City Hall and Hong Kong Cultural Hall. Browse through the eclectic mix of events at

FEB 24 ages 2-8. Visit or call 5589 0509. Studio 2403, Universal Trade Center, 17-19 Caine Road

FEB 15-20

Child-free zone: Feast and be pampered at Banyan Tree Macau For a non-traditional twist to Chinese New Year feasting, escape from Hong Kong to Macau’s Banyan Tree for a private, 5-course poolside Cabana CNY dinner. Or, hit one of the many other restaurants in the complex. Indulge and relax at the spa, with an individual or couples

spa treatment. Cabana Big Bowl Feast at Banyan Tree Macau is priced at MOP2,888 or try the Golden Indulgence spa package MOP3,220, which includes a 150-minute gold flakes full body massage, destress jade eye treatment and a rejuvenating floral bath.Visit for details.

FEB 20-25

Hong Kong Race Week Get ready for a week of high-octane sailing organised by the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Sailors

15 Minute Fat Pig Challenge Pork lovers’ eatery The Salted Pig is promoting its brunch menu with quite the challenge - any guest who can wolf down their signature ‘Fat Pig Breakfast for 2’ within fifteen minutes gets the meal, usually priced at $298, for free. If you try but fail, no worries: you’ll still get a $50 cash coupon for your bravery. The breakfast set comes with 12 items including bone marrow, pork belly, bacon and black pudding. Give it a go if you dare at Soho East G/F, 45 Tai Hong Street, Lei King Wan or G/F No.1 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui. | 9

what's on


Flower markets Flowers are abundant at CNY, you’ll see them all over Hong Kong at this time of year. The markets are great places to buy fresh flowers and plants to decorate your home or just to enjoy the buzzing festive spirits. If you’re a lover of blooms, head to Victoria Park’s annual Chinese New Year Flower Market. There you will find a huge variety of plants, decorations, a fair full of toys, knick knacks and food. Bargain hunters can jostle with the crowds on the last day of the market to pick up bargains when items go on sale.

dancers, marching bands and cheerleaders. The main parade officially starts at 8pm but street performers will be warming up the crowd from 6pm. It’s free to watch, but if you’re not keen on jostling for a place among tens of thousands of CNY revellers, there are tickets available for spectator seats. Prices range from $300 to $480 per person and can be bought from the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre at Star Ferry Concourse. These tickets are first-come-first-served.

FEB 16

Chinese New Year Night Parade The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade is the highlight for many Hongkongers during the festive period. Head over to TST to see the illuminated floats and international and local performers such as lion


win at

little.P Made with New Zealand wool, little.P creates high quality rugs and textiles that are beautiful and functional. The soft, durable and hypoallergenic fabric is environmentally friendly and great for children. A wool rug is perfect all year round - keeping you warm in winter and balancing the humidity of Hong Kong Summers. Custom and bespoke designs are also available at little P & The Palmer Studio, visit for more information. We are happy to give away a lovely cloud rug, valued at $3,500.

Sparadise Want fuller and healthier eyebrows and eyelashes? Sparadise’s Magic Eyelash & Eyebrow Boost Treatment might just be the answer. Using a trio of Le Mont Botanique’s purest botanical skin care products, the treatment is designed to help restore our eyebrows and eyelashes naturally. Visit to find out more about their wide selection of treatments. We have five treatments to give away, worth $1,400 in total.

Madeleine Bettridge Madeleine Bettridge is a British artist based in Hong Kong who creates unique, affordable artwork that brings to life the colours, sights and scenes of the city. ‘Wet Market’ is from her ‘Only in Hong Kong’ limited edition of signed prints featuring quintessential urban scenes using original photography, painting and collage. Find out more about Madeleine Bettridge and her artwork at We’re giving away a signed, limited edition 24x34 inch print of “Wet Market”, valued at $1,500.

Russell Peters Deported World Tour After two sold out tours around Asia in 2015 and 2016, Russell Peters is back with The Deported World Tour on March 13. Even if you haven’t been to one of his shows, you may recognise the Canadian comedian from his stand-ups specials on Netflix. Featuring all new material, get ready for a night of Peters’ signature audience interaction and unique blend of humour. Tickets are available at We are giving away two pairs of tickets, valued at $1920 in total.

van der Bloom Founded in 2017, van der Bloom has a comprehensive one-stop ordering website and next-day delivery service, making the purchase process simple and fuss-free. The Midlevels flower boutique also has a flower subscription service designed to suit your hectic schedule. With a click of the button, you’ll have fresh flowers delivered to your office or apartment at your desired time. We will be giving away one small size flower subscription, valued at $1,500. The subscription includes three deliveries of fresh blooms to your office or home.

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to get all our giveaways delivered straight to your inbox: 10 |

what's on


Run for Survival This fun marathon aims to raise funds for Asian wildlife conservation while also educating participants on ocean-friendly behaviour. The event offers a 10km Time Challenge and the more family-friendly 3km Fun Run. During the run, participants must also complete educational tasks presented to them at obstacle checkpoints. The routes loop around Hong Kong Science Park and Tai Po Waterfront by Tolo Harbour. 9am-2pm. Race starts at Hong Kong Science Park and Pak Shek Kok Promenade Sha Tin. Visit to confirm prices and register or call. More information at

MAR 10

John Legend The 10 time Grammy award winning singersongwriter will be gracing the stage at Asia World Expo. This soul and R&B crooner shot to international stardom in 2014 with his hit All of Me. Here he presents his latest album, Darkness and Light, and will most likely treat fans to some favourites from earlier days. The show starts at 8pm and tickets range from $480-$1280. Asia World Expo. Tickets available on

MAR 17

Sónar Festival Sónar, a major electronic music and technology festival originating in Barcelona, launched a Hong Kong edition of the event last year. Sónar Hong Kong is back for its second year, bringing with it a lineup of DJs and bands ranging from

dance friendly genres to experimental work. The tech side of the festival is Sónar+D which incorporates workshops, talks and an expo. Tickets from $180. Workshop participation may be subject to additional fees. Hong Kong Science Park, Shatin. More information at

APR 24

The Script Live Soft rock trio The Script will be returning to Hong Kong for the first time since 2011 with the release of their album Freedom Child. Known for hits such as Hall of Fame, Breakeven and The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, the Irish band reached the top of the UK charts with three multi-platinum albums. The first single from Freedom Child, Rain has nearly 30 million views, suggesting that The Script has lots of new material for fans to enjoy this year. Catch them in KITEC Star Hall at 8pm. Tickets range from $580-1280 on

MAY 11 - JUN 3 Evita

CATS may be ending its run this month, but luckily for musical lovers, another Andrew Lloyd Webber classic is coming this summer. Evita tells the tale of Argentina’s iconic first lady, Eva Perón, starting from her roots as the child of an impoverished family, to her rise to power as Argentina’s nationally adored first lady. The show includes all-time favourite Don’t Cry For Me Argentina and is performed by a talented touring cast. Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Tickets from $445-1045 on

MAY 1-6

The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake This world-class ballet company has toured internationally since its conception in 1994, and will finally make its debut in Hong Kong this spring. This production promises the full Swan Lake experience, renowned for its dazzling sets and exquisite costumes. The 60 member company comprises of dancers trained under the Vaganova method, a particularly rigorous Russian ballet training system. Catch the show at Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Standard tickets from $445 to $995 at

Got an event? We can publish the details for free. Email | 11

lust have this month

Show your love with the perfect gift

Monts Boises scented candle $308 from Blanc des Vosges Shop B126-130, B1/F, Mira Place 1, 132 Nathan Road, TST, 3904 1153

FOR HIM Moroccan neroli shaving duet $579 from Aesop 42-42A Hollywood Road, Central, 2673 3885

Willow Backpack Green camo $3690 from TUMI TUMI Alpha Bravo Willow Backpack Green Camo Shop 2010, Level 2, IFC Mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, 2790 1912

Men’s GHST Tee $580 from 2XU 77 Leighton Rd, Causeway Bay

QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II $2,888 from BOSE IFC Mall Central, 8 Finance Street, 3100 0080,

Customisable craft beer Pack of six bottles with different images $258 plus $48 delivery from Mr Artist 9 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay, 26588818

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Secrid Dutch Martin slim wallet $938 from Island Wake 1/F & 3/F 1-3 Cannon Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2623 6968

lust have this month

FOR r He

Crown ring From $22,000 from Annoushka Annoushka Boutique, The Mezzanine, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Central, 2388 9925,

Mariella Pheobe Backpack $6190 from TUMI Shop 2010, Level 2, IFC Mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, 2790 1912,

Ambi Climate AI $999 from Ambi Labs Buy online at and many other online retailers.

Amour flower bouquet $1,200 from van der Bloom G/F, 61 Hollywood Road, Central, 5505 1661

Classic check cashmere scarf (ash rose) (add initials for free) $3,900 from Burberry Alexandra Shopping Arcade, Shop 101 & 201, 88 Queensway Road, 2918 4010,

Lucky red box of eight assorted macarons $280 from Maison Pierre HermĂŠ Paris IFC Mall, Shop 1019C, L1, 8 Finance Street, Central, 2833 5700

Fleur of England margaux silk robe $4250 from Sheer

Eberjey delfina long line lace bralet & thong $460 & $560 from Sheer Shop 310, 3F, The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, 2388 2876 | 13


Public push to protect Instagram Pier Yasmin Hingun updates us on the fight for Instagram Pier


he government’s hotly contested plan to build a community garden on Sai Wan’s beloved ‘Instagram Pier’ took a turn in early January, after the District Council significantly downscaled the proposed area. But residents remain opposed to the plan due to perceived lack of consultation and transparency. Instagram Pier, formally the Western District Public Cargo Working Area, runs along and juts out of the Island’s northwestern edge. Joggers, dog walkers and photographers frequent the pier and its adjacent berth area for its unfettered views of Victoria Harbour and Belcher Bay. “[When] we visited the pier, we were taken aback by how gorgeous the sunset looked,” recalls photographer and resident Gabrielle Salonga. “It’s a great alternative to the typical Hong Kong skyline view a million tourists come to see.” The government’s policy address in October would have portioned off 7500 square metres of the berth area to be run by an NGO, with a section of the space to be converted into a community garden.

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Instagram Pier offers a huge space and this should be enjoyed

“This would limit the access for the majority of the public,” notes District and Legislative Councillor Ted Hui. “Instagram Pier offers a huge space and this should be enjoyed by most of the community rather than just a handful.” The plans caused widespread criticism, including a protest outside a District Council meeting in December, due to concerns over privatisation and the possibility of the space being fenced off. Public sentiment was not aided when part of the pier was closed off to host a month-long Taoist Festival in November without adequate consultation. “The festival also created trash issues,” says Hui. “This

could be one bad example of how some NGOs could mismanage the area.” In response to the public backlash, the District Council issued a new statement in January cutting down the NGO-owned space and garden to 2000 square metres. “Although the remaining open space seems to be larger than the original proposal, it is unclear what restrictions will be placed to change the ways [the public] use the site.” says Cherry Wong, convenor of the Protect Kennedy Town Alliance. In a joint reply, the Development Bureau [DEVB] and the LCSD explain that their second proposal places the remaining 5500 square metres from the original plan under governmental maintenance. Extra facilities such as railings, lighting and seating are to be added to ensure a safer harbourfront environment. Critics of the plan are not entirely opposed to some minor improvements to the pier but do not see the rationale for involving a third party for the garden. “We believe the government can manage the site and should not shirk their responsibility to do so,” states Wong.

local Furthermore, many question the nature of a harbourfront garden. “Surely they can find a better area,” points out Salonga. “After all, who thinks about planting vegetables on a pier?”

Why should there be a community garden on Instagram Pier?

The DEVB and LCSD contend that they are seeking to meet the area’s needs, referring to a nearby community garden at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park. “Since its establishment, the garden has always been oversubscribed. Hence, we believe that [Sai Wan Pier] could respond to demand for similar activities, while bringing in a new form of leisure use to the harbourfront.” “Strong winds, salinity, and sea waves make it difficult for a community garden to be located at the harbourfront,” counters Wong. She states that local concern groups have identified possible sites further inland that can

provide 3,000 square metres, for example on Ui On Lane, next to Ladder Street and in Sai Wan Estate. “It is good that the government listened to the concern groups by scaling down the area for the proposed community garden,” adds

Hui. “Although the fundamental question still remains: why should there be a community garden on Instagram Pier?” Got a local story? Have your say by emailing M | 15

five minutes with

Yuen Tai-yung

The ‘Godfather’ of Hong Kong movie posters I have never taken any drawing lessons, everything I can do I learnt slowly by myself. As a child, I used to doodle a lot, especially people. Years ago, before I worked in advertising, I watched a film and really liked the main character so I starting sketching in private. Back then I drew very slowly and would produce fewer than ten pieces in a year. But once I started working I had to train myself to work at a much faster pace and improved very quickly.

I’m still doing a very old vocation in this ultra modern age, and I think that’s why people feel strongly about my story. I didn’t need much qualifications nor English skills to get myself a good job that I’m interested in. Talent could override other qualities. Even though I was an art director, my company allowed me absences from team meetings as they were in English anyway. Nowadays it’s not that easy, you have to work very hard to stand out.

One of my proudest moments was using a mish-mash of broken English and Cantonese to tell a foreign superior off at work! I suppose I did take a bit of advantage because I knew the company wanted me. When I entered the film advertising industry, there weren’t a lot of locals who were good at drawing. The company offered to pay for me to take English tuition in the evenings, but I was always too sleepy to concentrate after a full day of work, so I eventually gave it up.

I have actually not seen a lot of the films that I’ve done drawings for. The most important part of the process was the movie stills. They’d have thick books of still shots from the reels in sequence, and I would take them home to understand the plot and feel. Then I’d roughly draft an initial drawing and present it for review; usually they’d only request for slight adjustments or additions, it was very rare that I’d have to start from scratch.

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I have since branched out into drawing foreign celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Kiko Mizuhara. I find Caucasian appearances more attractive and appealing than that of Asian artists. It’s down to genetics. Their features are definitely more delicate and exquisite. My drawings of Audrey Hepburn and Momoe Yamaguchi are my favourites among the foreign celebs.

I do think the art of hand-drawn movie posters should be preserved, but it is always easier said than done, because computer graphics are definitely more time and cost effective. The younger generation probably doesn’t have the patience to paint manually when you can do it with just a few clicks. A shame, really—there is so much artistic and creative value in such works. Yuen Tai-yung’s latest exhibition ‘Glitter, Glitz and Glamour’ is being held in the Garden of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui East Waterfront Podium Garden, running until March. | 17


Lawry’s The Prime Rib

Valentine’s dining The right food and mood for the most romantic time of the year Bizou Wood finishings and vintage light fixtures create the perfect mood for a dinner date. This American brasserie will excite your taste buds with a king crab leg starter, butternut squash soup plus a hearty shared main of macaroni and cheese with a 26oz bone in ribeye. Finish up with a meringue-topped key lime tart and a chocolate cheesecake. Bizou’s menu is priced at $888 per couple. Open 11:30am - 10:30pm. 2871 0775. Shop 132, L1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib Get into a seasonal mood by opting for Lawry’s four course Valentine’s menu. Along with your prime beef cut, which will be served in a shining silver cart, Lawry’s will serve up poached lobster, scallop salad and a glass of rosé champagne. If you prefer, you can swap the ribs out for a Chilean sea bass dish. A pink

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chocolate mousse cake ties up your feast, and you can add coffee or tea to balance the sweet palate. Standard price is $2,399 but if you book a table before February 10th, the

meal comes to $2,099 for two. Call 2907 2218. Shop 201, 2/F Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central

dining An anti-Valentine’s affair Ophelia: The Trouble with Paradise This outrageously decadent cocktail cum live entertainment bar is throwing its second Anti-Valentine’s Day celebration. Get yourself a cocktail or three before watching the dazzling performers roam the area from 9pm onwards. 1/F, The Avenue, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Rd East, Wan Chaim, 2520 1117. RSVP for complimentary admission at

Hugo’s Hugo’s mahogany lined interiors are reminiscent of a medieval, fairytale setting, with its gilt mirrors, shield plaques and a large suit of armour standing guard. Order their Valentine’s Day menu, which will lay out mouthwatering European style fare. After pre-starters, tuck into veal tartare followed by oysters and saffron foam soup with lobster tortellini. The main course offer sous-vide mullet or Chateaubriand steak. Dessert mousse - comes with a sweet twist in the form of a chocolate sauce cardiogram line drizzled over your plate. This six-course menu costs $1,388 per person. Lobby Level, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. 37217733

Motorino’s Heart shaped pizzas for Valentine’s day? Count us in. Neapolitan pizzeria Motorino’s will be adding heart shaped pizzas to their menu for the entire month of February. Get in on the fun by joining Motorino’s pizza making party on February 17, where wine, beer and antipasti will also be served. The party costs $248 (plus a

10% service charge) to attend. If you are set on having a cosy night in, opt for their Date Night Special home delivery for two. This includes a pizza, homemade tiramisu and a choice between a bottle of Gragnano or two antipasti, all priced at $388. 14 Shelley Street, Soho. For more info call 2801 6881 or visit

Cuisine Cuisine If you want a break from the traditionally European Valentine’s meals, head to the opposite side of Victoria Harbour for a “Cantonese love” menu at Cuisine Cuisine. For one week, head chef Edwin Tang will be cooking up a seven course meal featuring chilled octopus, cucumber soup, stir fried lobster, and baked rice with Hokkaido scallops. The meal ends with a traditional Cantonese dessert of sesame dumplings in almond cream. $2,388 for two. Add an extra $350 if you want wine pairings to go along with your meal. For booking enquiries call 2315 5222. 3/F, The Mira Hong Kong, Mira Place, 118-130 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

Wahtiki’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Party For a lively singles’ mingling session head to Wahtiki Island Lounge’s Anti-Valentine’s bash. This bright, bamboo-fitted tiki bar will be providing a free-flow buffet. Wash the food and your social inhibitions down with three cocktails and rub shoulders with singletons from 6:30pm until late. Party admission is $500, all inclusive. To book call 2793 0308 or email 3/F, Seabird House, 22-28 Wyndham Street, Central.

Natural F&B’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Party French organic wine importer Natural Food & Beverages is hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Day social at their private yet homey space near Staunton Street. Tucked away in this secretive nook, you can sip on wine and cocktails while relaxing on the rooftop with other singles. Admission is $200 for three glasses of wine or cocktails, but if you’d like to take your night up a notch, opt for free flow priced at $600. To book, email or Whatsapp them at 6500 0153. Alternatively, pay a visit in person at 8 Wa In Fong East, Central. | 19


Gaucho’s This Argentinian steak house will be offering a three course Valentine’s set designed differently for “señor” and “señora”. “She” starts with seared mackerel with tiger prawns as a main, while “he” begins with steak tartare

and a main of a 300 gram Bife de Ancho steak. The dessert is a shared crème caramel velvet cupcake with almond crumble. This “him” and “her” menu costs $1,288 for two and wine pairings for each course will be served for an

extra $588 per couple. Gaucho opens from 5pm-11pm. 5/F, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. For reservations call 2386 8090

Shore Soak in an urban nightscape at Shore’s rooftop terrace - or their sleek indoor area - while treating yourselves to a five course Valentine’s meal. Begin with oysters and foie gras terrine, followed by a velvety mushroom soup. Shore slows down the pace by next serving strawberry sorbet garnished with apple blossom flowers. You can then decide between roast cod or char-grilled Angus filet for your main course, before ending your meal on a sweet note with peanut butter mousse and strawberry salsa. Priced at $998 for two. 3/F & 4/F, the L. place, 139 Queen’s Road Central. Book a table by calling 2915 1638 or visit

Invisible Kitchen’s Tickled Pink Hamper For a fun, original yet classy lunch with your sweetheart, try Invisible Kitchen’s Tickled Pink Hamper. Among the assortment of delicately prepared bites are asparagus neatly wrapped in ham, artisan cheese with bread and two different salads. The hamper stays true to its romantic theme, with heart-shaped Croque

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dining hang from the restaurant walls. The simple but acclaimed dishes change seasonally and includes a section for vegetarians. Visit to view the full menu, and call 2728 0178 for bookings. 3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central.

monsieurs and watermelon pieces. Two mini bottles of chilled RosĂŠ Flamingo Champagne are tucked in the charming wicker basket. Remember to order your hamper, priced at $1,150 (excluding delivery fees) at least seven days before your lunch date. Visit or call 2711 5788

Arcane Get intimate at this dining spot tucked away on a small street above Queen’s road. Arcane, which prides itself on its discreet location is a nice choice for a Valentine’s Day meal. Dine alfresco on their cosy terrace surrounded by plenty of greenery, or sit indoors and cast your eye on contemporary art pieces which | 21

home & living

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home & living

The road to renovation success Joseph Chang divulges his design secrets to Yasmin Hingun


aybe you’re the solo urban professional; perhaps you’re the high-flyer with a family in tow - regardless, there’s one rite of passage most city-slickers yearn to see through: moving into a home you can call your own. But trawling through Hong Kong’s heated housing market to secure a property is not the end of the journey. Owning a home that truly meets your needs usually calls for an interior overhaul. Revamping your interiors can pose another set of challenges.

The plethora of design options may seem endless. Wood panelled or marble floors? Walls in white, pastel or something bolder? Open plan or a more conventional layout? And if you have children, what’s the best way to create a home that will ensure their safety?

Guiding your renovation quest For new homeowners who are stuck at a renovation roadblock, there are two main

types of interior experts: interior decorators and interior designers. Interior decorators usually focus on the aesthetics of a space, for example working on finishings, fabrics and lighting. On the other hand, interior designers handle technical as well as aesthetic tasks for their clients. Their job includes spatial planning, blueprinting and project management, as well as decorational aspects such as colour scheming and furniture choices. | 23

home & living

A home design expert Joseph Chang is a Hong Kong-based luxury interior designer whose projects span from sprawling mansions at the Peak to outdoor seafront spaces on the southside. With years of experience under his belt and an unwavering passion for all things design, this NYC educated designer is a go-to expert when it comes to property facelifts. “The first part of my life was torn between fashion, fine art and interior design,” explains Chang. “I then attended Parsons School of Design to study art history and interior design. This education allowed me to work as an interior designer for high-end customers.” Chang indeed went on to work on upmarket homes and soon started his own interior

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design firm, JC Vision. Chang’s residential clients include business magnates and luxury realtors whose involvement in the revamp process vary, often depending on their own know-how of design. Chang explains it is up to the client to decide how much creative control they are willing to give their designer. “In terms of my design process, I start with the [property’s] structure, which tells me what base language to start from as well as how to break from its language when needed. From there, it’s always a balance of the tastes and aspirations of the client - how to translate those into a design language that is appropriate for the house and respectful of the budget.” Even now, Chang is digging deep into his renovation know-how, working on a big project for a property

on the Peak. “It’s a rigorous, colonnaded house from the 1950’s,” Chang tells us. “I’m now designing the interiors in a classic, relaxed colonial vibe with gardens inspired by Garrett Eckbo. Finding the right balance between comfort and style is a constant challenge and keeps me creatively motivated.”

Start in the right place The road to a successful renovation can indeed be long and tricky, Chang explains that getting the project past the beginning stages is one of the most challenging aspects of revamping your home. His strategy is to draft up several different plans for his clients to give them an idea of the design possibilities. “My clients aren’t necessarily sure what they want. I crystallize their thoughts by

home & living

suggesting different alternatives,” says Chang. To curb the difficulties in starting out, Chang offers two main suggestions: know your home, and know what you want from it. “First, take a good look around, measure it, make a note of the dimensions, and locate power outlets and switches,” he advises. “Knowing all of this will help [you] make the right choices regarding furnishing, floor coverings, paint, accessories and other items that will be kept in the space.” Secondly, homeowners would do well to know how the space will be utilised, since interior design is as much about functionality as it is about appearance. Chang uses the example of the living room - there may be a tendency to centre attention around the television, but major functions should not be overlooked such as computer usage, entertaining guests, or setting up a safe

childrens’ play area. Having a solid idea about each room’s major purposes sets a clear direction for design.

Hong Kong hurdles Chang has worked both abroad and locally, and has pinpointed two Hong Kong specific challenges for renovators to keep in mind: timing and space. True to the city’s fast-paced nature, timelines are usually tight. Chang remembers a 4,200 square foot renovation project on West Babington Path which required combining two flats together within a threemonth timeframe. “What’s more, the clients were still living in the original flat during the renovation,” recalls Chang. Space, a perennial issue that hounds homeowners in Hong Kong, is another major obstacle that Chang singles out, but he

Initial consultation questions The work of interior designers is often described as almost psychological in nature. Home experts must work closely with their clients. Here are a few questions you should be prepared to answer. • What are the goals of the project? • What is the style of the space and when was it built? • How many occupants does this property have? • What are your design priorities? • What are your likes and dislikes? • What’s on your wish-list? • What’s the timeframe and budget? | 25

home & living

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home & living

contends that a clever design can mitigate this problem. “In a small area, seemingly simple changes in the floor plan can make a big difference,” he notes. In addition, Chang yet again stresses the importance of knowing your property, having a good understanding of your needs in terms of usage requirements, and having a clear cut budget.

Money, money, money Why work with an interior designer as opposed to going down the DIY route? If the property facelift is a major or complex project then “well begun is half done” according to Chang. Interior designers can help you plan your revamp, saving you money and time. Chang’s number one tip to working smoothly with your interior designer lies in having a clear budget. “An upfront budget allows us to help you prioritize your list and shows what your budget makes possible.” In Chang’s experience, some clients may overspend on renovation projects, but a clear-cut financial plan presented early on helps with resource allocation and scoping out the timeline. Before your home design project hits the

road, come up with a budget sheet which outlines your expense limit, as well as cost estimates for any resources you know you will need.

Riding the trend Everyone wants a stylish home that looks fresh and up to date with style trends. At the same time, Chang encourages placing emphasis on timeless decor, as opposed to following trends which are subject to the whims of the moment. “My design philosophy is to create simple, elegant spaces that sustain over time,” shares Chang. “I leave the spices to furnishing that can be changed easily. For instance, people are now into the industrial trend with grey and metal which is fine, but do it with accent pieces as opposed to the entire place. Do it with the coffee table, with distressed wood and the metal base, then you can get rid of it one day when you are sick of it.” Know your home, know what you want from it and have a clear budget ready before meeting your home designer. With adequate preparation and Chang’s top tips in mind, the road to renovation success may not seem so insurmountable after all.

Five Top Tips for Renovating in Hong Kong 1. Function comes first: start with a logical layout based on the usage requirements of each room. 2. Plan sufficient storage. Corners with great potential which you may overlook include under the couch, bed, or bathroom sink, and within bookcases or hall closets. 3. Leave some space for the eye to rest, or you’ll risk winding up with a home that looks too busy. A little bit of empty space is a luxury. 4. Use neutral colors for permanent parts of your home such as the walls; restrict bolder looks to bits of the house you can change easily, say artwork or cushions. 5. Chang’s must-haves: functionality (namely safety and comfort); a great piece of art; terrific textiles to complete the environment. | 27

money & investment

Remodel your finances

Wealth Manager Kishan Karia shares ways to improve financial fitness 1. Where are you currently? The best place to start is simply by looking through your current savings, investments and debts. This is often the hardest part of assessing your finances but it’s vital to know where you are before you can plan where you want to be.

2. Make a budget and stick to it. Budgeting is one of the most important things you can do. Keep it simple and achievable. Identify your monthly income and expenses, accounting for fixed expenses like mortgage/rental payments, utility bills and school fees so you can clearly see what you have left over and do allow for occasional treats.

It’s vital to know where you are before you can plan where you want to be

3. Save. Hong Kong has many attractions and these might include better pay and lower taxes. Use this time to build up a nice savings pot. Try to save at least 20% each month and aim for 3-6 months’ worth of savings to take care of both expected needs and unforeseen emergencies. Recent years haven’t been kind to savers and it might be time to reassess your savings on deposit if you already have this bit covered.

Are you tax ready? In Hong Kong, the tax year runs from 1st April – 31st March and your salary is paid ‘gross’ which means no local tax has been deducted from your monthly salary. Depending on your monthly income, tax rates range from 2% - 17%. Therefore, it is important to put a portion of your monthly income aside and build up a reserve to help pay this.

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4. Banish Bad debt. It’s easy to pile on those expenses to your credit card. Some credit cards provide great perks including cashback or airmiles but make sure you pay them in full to avoid any interest charges. Paying off debts such as these should be your priority (or at least managing it with options such as interest free credit cards).

5. Investing. Investing may allow your money to grow at a faster rate. However, you need to be comfortable with the risks involved. If you are new to investing, you may benefit from meeting with a wealth manager/financial

Pension Schemes The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) alone is unlikely to provide you enough to retire comfortably but it is a good start. If you decide to leave Hong Kong at some point you can fully draw out the fund

planner to help navigate the world of investing. A good adviser will gain a clear understanding of your financial aims and then provide solutions to help achieve them. If you’re already investing, it’s always worth checking the investment is providing you good value, whether it be performance and/or fees. M | 29

body & soul

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body & soul

Renovate your skin

Rebecca Simpson catches up with Aesthetician Justine Grier


ealthy skin is the ultimate beauty canvas, no matter the season or your age. It’s a fact no woman or man can hide from. Ours is a tough city to achieve a flawless complexion and for many of those new to the city, maintaining a clear complexion can feel like an unwinnable battle. Hong Kong presents an abundance of challenges when it comes to cultivating healthy skin – the pollution, the long work hours, the endless air-conditioning, the humidity, our (sometimes questionable) lifestyle choices, our love of sun-drenched junks, hiking and anything outdoors. The list goes on. So what’s a girl, or guy, to do? The answer: Call in an expert and start to actively manage your skin.

The first step to great skin is stabilising the skin

Justine Grier is one of Hong Kong’s most coveted Aestheticians. What’s an Aesthetician? It’s more than a fancy-sounding title, it means she’s a highly qualified beauty professional with the training, formal qualifications and medical-grade tools to diagnose skin and perform high-end skin treatments. She’s a skin-whisperer with a killer toolkit, the best kind. You might recognise her name. She’s the go-to recommendation we see time and again on women’s forums in Hong Kong. Countless

brides, new mums, and ladies getting to a certain age gush about her transformative powers. So at the start of a new year we were delighted to sit down with the lady herself to get the low down on the treatments her clients love the most. Justine makes it very clear that Hong Kong is a difficult city for our skin. “Inflammation rates in Hong Kong are very high. Pollution, humidity, sweat, and the city’s volume of bacteria living in such dense conditions – they all contribute to inflammation. Sometimes it’s difficult for me diagnose skin type in the first treatment because the environmental conditions are so inflammatory for clients.” She says, often, the first step to great skin is stabilising the skin before tackling cosmetic concerns. While environmental factors play an integral role for many of us, everyone’s skin is unique. “Each client comes to me as an individual – genetics, lifestyle, environment, behaviour, and hormones - all mean everyone needs a unique treatment,” says Justine as she warns that getting professional guidance on your skin care plan for 2018 is important. Why? As modern products become stronger and more widely available at places like Fanda, professional guidance is necessary to avert disaster. Justine advises that self-diagnosis or following a friend’s advice likely won’t yield results. In fact, with products with active ingredients like Retinol, women can get themselves into serious trouble and cause unfavourable skin reactions like redness, peeling, blistering, and hypo or hyper pigmentation. The most common struggles presented by Justine’s clients are Pigmentation, Acne, Anti-Ageing, and Sensitivity (which includes

New new year, skin!

challenges relating to eczema, dermatitis and rosacea). For professionals at the top of the beauty game, the skincare clinic has merged with the doctors office to provide medicalgrade products and equipment to clients looking for effective results to all of these concerns. Justine gives us a glimpse into go-to treatments her Hong Kong clients come back for time and again.

Microneedling via Dermapen (The Vampire Facial) What is it? You’ve probably seen ‘The Vampire Facial’ on the Kardashians or a Real Housewives episode, but don’t be distracted by the celebrity factor. This is a treatment that can, according to Justine, garner stellar results. Dermapen is the next-generation in microneedling, which is an electric pen device that uses disposable multiple needle tip cartridges to create micro puncture wounds, promoting collagen and elastin production.

What happens? The dermapen is used across the skin and its micro-needles create holes, called microchannels, that are used to infuse products into the deeper dermal layer of the skin where they are most effective. Different concerns will call for different products. This treatment falls under the category CIT - Collagen Induction Therapy as is super successful in reducing acne scarring and is my go to for anti-aging and resurfacing. There is a recovery time for this procedure. Some people can walk out of the treatment with only a look of sunburn for a few hours (which can be covered with makeup). Others have more dramatic redness for up to 48 hours.

Who’s it for? This is an anti-ageing treatment but Justine also uses it to help improve scarring. It’s for those looking for deep product penetration to help with skin tightening, reduction in lines and wrinkles, and general rejuvenation.

Does it hurt? A little. There is no need for anaesthetic to be used but know this treatment can be uncomfortable, rather than painful. | 31

body & soul

Medical Microdermabrasion What is it? Incorporated into a 1-hour facial, microdermabrasion is a process that sloughs off the dead and dull surface layers of the skin. The treatment stimulates an increase in collagen production and rejuvenation.

Make your life simple, use an SPF​ every day.

pulsed light therapy). This treatment is used all over the body to remove brown sun spots from the face, neck, hands, chest and other places of concern. IPL is coupled with long-term home care and treatments such as peels for deeper issues.

Dermal Pigmentation What happens? This treatment uses a diamond-tip wand (sounds glam!) that is gently moved across the skin of your face and neck to exfoliate the old skin and stimulate blood to come to the surface. This microdermabrasion process is about 10-15 minutes of a 1-hour facial.

Who’s it for? Everyone really, it’s great for Eurasian and Asian skin that may not react well to chemical peels. Justine says, “Diamond tips are an efficient, safe way to exfoliate the skin without having to turn to a chemical product when I’m getting to know someone’s skin. It’s a great way to get more bang for your buck because with medical microdermabrasion, products infuse more deeply into the skin cells.”

Pigmentation – skin VS sun Skin Vs Sun. We know who always, always wins that battle. Hint: The Sun. According to Justine, we need to be in constant battle mode against the big ball of fire in the sky. Protection, protection, protection is her advice. “Make your life simple, use an SPF every day. Don’t make putting on sunscreen something extra to do. Simplify your life and make it part of your routine. Remember: If you’re in the car, you’re under attack from the sun. If you’re at work and the sun is on your desk, you’re under attack. Protect yourself.” Pigmentation presents in two ways

Does it hurt? No. Don’t be fooled by the ‘abrasion’ reference. The equipment can be adjusted in intensity.

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Sun damage (sun spots) Justine assures us that sun spots are easily addressed with a treatment called IPL (intense

This includes what’s known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’ and it’s not as straightforward to deal with as good ol’ sun spots. This is not treated with a light source machine like sun spots are. Justine shares, “With the mask of pregnancy, it’s a long-term process to effect change. I use some great Skinceuticals, O Cosmedics and Ultraceuticals products in combination as a targeted anti pigmentation home care routine, it’s important to know it’s a long game. For those who are pregnant, it’s crucial to stay out of the sun during this time if you see any changes starting to occur on your skin. We can manage and control it with pregnancy-friendly products.“

Justine Grier works her magic at Optimal Family Health at The Centrium on Wyndham St. | 33

Photo by Ceeseven via Wikimedia Commons


Des Voeux Road Central

A car-free Des Voeux Road Central?

Jennifer Frisinger is working to reclaim Des Voeux Road Central for pedestrians


century ago, Des Voeux Road Central was Hong Kong’s face to the world: the first scenes that greeted newcomers as they stepped off steamers at Blake Pier or Jubilee Street. Known then simply as “the Praya”, this waterfront promenade linking the colonial heart of Victoria City and the “native quarter” of Sheung Wan was where east truly did meet west. Before the dawn of the motorcar, trams alone trundled past the medley of local and foreign businesses that lined the pavement, from fabric stalls and pawn shops to Shanghainese barbers and White Russian fur traders. Many of these historic businesses—and the trams—remain, but the road itself, moored well inland by reclamation, has become one of the most polluted and least people-friendly thoroughfares in the city. Walk DVRC, a Hong Kong-based NGO, wants to give this 1.4-kilometre stretch between Pedder Street and Western Market, once culturally rich and now choked with traffic, back to the people by closing it to most vehicles. The idea of a pedestrianised Des Voeux Road Central is neither a new nor a fanciful one—since

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2000, architects, planners and urbanists have recognised it as a desirable as well as achievable goal. In 2016, a one-day trial proved that the closure of the road to most traffic can be successfully accomplished, and an enthusiastic reception from the public showed the contribution it can make to optimising human enjoyment of Central. Going car-free has also won support from many neighbourhood shops, which stand to benefit from doing business somewhere that is a destination rather than just a place that commuters wish to pass through—and pass through as quickly as possible, our research suggests. In a survey conducted by Walk DVRC earlier this year, pedestrians gave the road failing grades for both interest and comfort. A walkable Des Voeux Road Central offers benefits to out-of-town visitors as well, linking the downtown core to numerous nearby tourist destinations such as the Mid-Levels escalators, Tai Kwun and PMQ arts centres and historic Man Mo Temple. Creating a walkable and livable Central Business District begins with revitalizing Des Voeux Road Central and turning it into a public realm worthy of a city of Hong Kong’s international image and status.

Hong Kong’s leaders recognise that poor air quality discourages foreign talent from settling here, and have stated their commitment to the laudable goal of making Hong Kong a “smarter” city by utilising big data and emerging digital technologies. But smart cities are more than just about technologies and improved services; they can help make people live more comfortably and increase their sense of belonging to the community. The government should take a more strategic view and explore how it can play an active role in ensuring that residents and visitors to Hong Kong benefit more from a liveable city and a vibrant Central Business District. As his tenure as Governor of Hong Kong drew to a close in 1891, Des Voeux Road Central’s namesake Sir William Des Voeux left enraptured with Hong Kong, doubting whether any other spot on earth was “more likely to excite, or more fully justify, pride in the name of Englishman.” In a similar vein, we hope that Des Voeux Road Central will soon be free to achieve its full potential, and excite and justify the pride of Hongkongers as it ought to. Jennifer Frisinger is the CEO of Walk DVRC Project



New horizons

Rebecca Simpson heads to Causeway Bay to find out how HKCA Po Leung Kuk primary is marrying an international education with a local outlook


remember when I first dipped my toe into the abyss of information about school choices in Hong Kong. It was right after a slightly panic-inducing conversation with my new mum friends who, in all honesty, knew a lot more about this parenting gig than I did. They were organised and had read books by Annabel Karmel, and brought breast pumps before their babies arrived, and those babies had routines, and the mums remembered their lip gloss and keys all the time. So I knew I should pay attention when they started to talk about schools. Education is important. Significantly more important than breast pumps or keys or even lipstick. I knew I needed to get this part right. Down the rabbit hole I went. I googled “Hong Kong School Options” and life, quite frankly, hasn’t been the same since. Innocence lost. Like most new (to Hong Kong) parents,

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I drowned in information about the various curriculums on offer, debentures, and tried to understand more about the local Hong Kong school system. At times I felt like I needed a formal qualification to make the right choice.

And here’s the best bit – there’s no capital levy, no debenture, and fees are competitive

One consideration set that seemed to be missing was an international curriculum in a Hong Kong setting. There was either the

local system or an “international” school. This apparent dichotomy presented a tough choice. For a lot of expats, living in Hong Kong feels like a once-in-lifetime cultural opportunity and many of us want to capitalise on that opportunity for our children. However, the local system is a challenge some parents are unwilling to expose their families to. Stricter teaching methods and significant homework loads are practical considerations parent often choose not to engage with. Many do, and see great success, but for others it’s too much to take on. Every family is different. So I asked myself, where are all the hybrid schools with an international, progressive curriculum like the IB, but executed in a way an expat family can be part of their local community, instead of being schooled primarily with other expats? What I think I was


looking for was an international curriculum delivered with a Hong Kong experience. So I was happily surprised (albeit with a pang of jealousy now my kids are settled into schools) when I visited HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School and uncovered just that – an IB school run by a Hong Kong organisation for Hong Kong and expat families. Bingo! And here’s the best bit – there’s no capital levy, no debenture, and fees are competitive. Po Leung Kuk is a charity organisation that was established 120 years ago with a mission to take care of women and children who had been thrown out of society. Today, the organisation is still running care centers and orphanages here in Hong Kong but it’s also an organisation strongly associated with education in the city, with 113 registered schools and more than 50,000 students within its network. This is a local organisation with Hong Kong roots that go wide and deep. While HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School is the first of its schools to offer the PYP (IB primary years program), this international approach is not an entirely new concept within the network. Po Leung Kuk’s Choi Kai Yau School already offers senior students

the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program in the final two years of school. HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School’s international offering is definitely a new proposition for the network, but not without some grounding.

Many international schools are very British in their ethos - ours is much more of a community school

HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School will offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) which is an English language, inquiry-led framework for children three-12 years old. Parents researching online will see the school is yet to be accredited as an IB school. It’s important to clarify that children are currently being taught the PYP program, by PYP-experienced

teachers, but as a brand new school this formal accreditation has not yet been awarded. Founding principal David Priest is clear that recruitment for the school’s teaching body has purposefully involved hiring teachers with PYP experience. “This means we can authentically operate using the PYP framework” he says. He is passionate about building an international community. “As an international school, you should have an international faculty. If the majority of the teachers are from one country than that country’s ethos and educational pedagogy tends to dominate.” The experience for students is multicultural, with a Hong Kong skew. According to Priest, the playground language is mostly English, but he also hears Cantonese and Mandarin – reflecting the student mix. “It’s typical, in an international mix of children, that the language they are being taught in the classroom tends to come out into the playground, quite naturally (English is the language of instruction at the school). Of course, there are times when they’ll switch to Chinese. I support that because a lot of research has shown it’s very important for | 37


children to have a first language to learn a second language. Conceptually their mother tongue is their strongest language and we need to support and respect that.” What will make this school most appealing for some parents is its ability to offer families the chance to be part of a predominantly Hong Kong community, not a predominantly expat community. Upon opening, the school has attracted local families with international experience, rather than international families having a Hong Kong experience. For parents who enjoy Hong Kong historical trivia, you’ll be interested to know the school’s campus was originally built in the 1950s as the Building Contractors’ Association Primary School and Kindy. It was built during Hong Kong’s construction boom to educate the children of Hong Kong’s many construction workers and the union ran the school for 50 years or so. In 2017, the campus has been given a new lease of life by Po Leung Kuk’s latest venture, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School. I visited the school late last year when construction on part of the campus was still underway. Priest was hopeful construction would be completed around May 2018. Using my imagination, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School looks like it will offer a lovely learning

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environment, nestled into a green space a short walk from Causeway Bay. It’s not a large or spacious campus but it does offer an outdoor space to play sport and run amok during recess and lunch. It also has a lofty new hall for communal gatherings and rainy day sport that’s just perfect for Hong Kong summers. The classrooms are bright, airy and were full of giggles during our tour. It’s a happy campus that offers a great space for little learners.

A lovely learning environment, nestled into a green space

Right now the school offers Grade 1, 2, and 3. For 2018-2019 the school will have Grades 1 to 4 and in 2019 there will be a Grade 5 class. There are even plans for a kindergarten. Parents can head to their website to see how these grades/classes correspond to other international schools.

For parents with older children you’ll immediately ask, what about the remaining years of high school? “That’s something a lot of parents are already concerned about. We only go to P5, which is Year 6 (in other school systems). We’ve made it very clear to Hong Kong parents that it’s almost impossible to transition back into the local system because P6 is heavily focused on the examination to get into secondary schools in Hong Kong. “Transitioning to other international schools will be the main option. And so, that’s something that we have already started to make inroads into, trying to find schools that are possible connections. Fortunately there are more spaces available in secondary schools, within the international school system. We are looking at other schools on Hong Kong Island and on the other side of the harbour that share a similar inquiry-based approach.” “There are plenty of opportunities with really nice secondary schools – that’s not going to be an issue at all. Parents panic, they do,” says Ruth Benny, head girl at Top Schools and an expert in school placements in Hong Kong. Benny believes the idea of a standalone primary school is increasingly gaining traction in Hong Kong and children at these primary schools tend to transition well. When asked what makes his school an


Sponsored Column

Inspirational learning spaces at schools By Anne Murphy, Director, ITS Education Asia (School Advisory Services) International schools in Hong Kong are setting new standards for their architectural designs, focusing on the best learning environments for students. Some schools now have spaces that promote cooperation and inspire students to become more engaged in particular subjects. For example, Harbour School have a Marine Wet Lab complete with a touch tank for younger students to interact with marine animals. This allows students to create or participate in scientific experiments related to the ocean. “By taking the learning experience out of the classroom, we encourage students to think differently, take risks, persevere through a problem and work with others in ways that create lasting memories and love for learning”, says, Jadis Blurton, Director at The Harbour School. At Yew Chung International School, the recent campus renovation incorporates flexible and collaborative learning. The open-air podium space offers non-classroom environment and an openness to inspire. These areas lend support to multiple types of learning: observational, information-based, projectbased, spontaneous, peer and individual. With a range of seating and gathering options,

students have the ability to select the most optimum and beneficial way for themselves. Karrie Dietz, Head of Stamford American School, says, “Inspiring students to be innovative, collaborate and develop a love for learning is important. We believe the learning environment plays an important role towards this inspiration and therefore we have been purposeful in the design of our new learning spaces. We also believe it is important to provide easy access to innovative resources to promote exploration, therefore technology tools are available in our well-resourced STEMInn lab and also in classrooms.” The Chinese Cultural Centre (CCC) at Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) includes a Chinese library, a large multi-functional open area for performances and four classrooms named after Chinese dynasties. The space features Chinese lattice windows and bright red pillars, but also cutting-edge technology such as interactive smart projectors. Considered a “smart centre”, the CCC features moveable walls, allowing the space to be opened up for collaborative teaching and learning or larger scale events. An adaptable environment to suit different

learning scenarios is at the heart of the new Shrewsbury International School interior space. Principal, Ben Keeling, explained: “Careful consideration of communal spaces will encourage discussion and provide staff with the opportunity to build interconnected learning communities.” Classrooms will be equipped with the latest technology to further enhance collaborative opportunities. From observing the majority of international schools, students are learning in studentcentered environments—where learning is individualised and personalised to suit the needs of a child. When students are engaged in their activity and they feel comfortable in their space, that is when deeper learning happens. ITS Education Asia ITS Education Asia provides an education consulting service that works with families and employers to find the right schools for individual children in Hong Kong, from nursery to secondary schools. ITS also offers research, policy and advisory services for corporations. For more details, contact, 3188 3940 or

School Report appealing choice for expat parents, Mr Priest responds, “We have space! And the location here on Hong Kong Island, it’s a short walk from Causeway Bay. The children don’t have to spend lots of time on school buses and they can use public transportation to get to school. It’s also a great residential area.

“Many other international schools are very British in their ethos. Our school is much more of a local community school.” For families coming from overseas who want more of a Hong Kong experience with the IB curriculum, HKCA Po Leung Kuk Primary School is worth checking out.

Established: August 2017 Number of students: 94 Class size: Currently 14-22, but maximum is 30 Curriculum: PYP Fees 2017/2018: HK$89,800 Non refundable capital levy: None Address: 62 Tin Hau Temple Road, Hong Kong Tel: 2807 1770 | 39


Challenge yourself in the “Land of Eternal Blue Sky� Gemma Shaw shares the story of a special Mongolia Bike Ride

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s a long weekend destination, Mongolia may not be the first country that comes to mind. But perhaps it should be, the country commonly referred to as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” on account of its 250 sunny days a year, offers some of the most unique and stunning terrain in the world. Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mangolia, is around four and a half hours from Hong Kong with flights departing regularly. It is possible to leave Friday evening and be back for work Monday morning. Just one of the many reasons why this travel destination deserves a place on your 2018 bucket list. Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia is the 18th largest sovereign country in the world. It is also the most sparsely populated with just three million people occupying its 1,564,116 square kilometres.

This travel destination deserves a place on your 2018 bucket list

Getting to know the locals

Mongolia is a much sought after destination for tourists seeking adventure. Rolling hills, vast lands and dense forests provide some of the most unique landscapes on the planet. English is not commonly spoken here and without a knowledgeable local by your side, which means navigating the country can be difficult and, at times, dangerous. One opportunity to experience this incredible country is offered by French-born, Hong Kong resident Marc-Henry Lebrun and his wife Tsolmon, who grew up in Mongolia. The couple met and married in Hong Kong. On a visit to Tsolmon’s home country over 10 years ago. They felt compelled to do something to help Ulaanbaatar’s poorest families so they established the Tsolmon Ireedui Foundation (TIF) in 2009. TIF is a charitable kindergarten which provides warmth, food and daycare for children who would otherwise be left at home, alone and without heating, while their parents are out working. TIF provides the children with three hot meals a day. Tsolmon says, “For breakfast the children have hot cereal. For lunch it is usually a soup made with vegetables and potatoes and before they go home we provide a meal with lots of meat; they need protein to keep them full overnight as we know they won’t get anything else to eat until they come back the next morning.” | 41


To support the charity, the couple organise annual trips to visit Ulaanbaatar and Tetelj Natural Park which is around an hour and a half’s drive from the capital. “TIF Mongolia Bike Ride is a long weekend of in-depth immersion built around a two day discovery of Mongolia’s nature”, explains Lebrun. The next trip will take place from June 30 to July 1 and will offer guests opportunities to go cycling, horse riding, hiking and to visit some

temples. “In past years, we focused on cycling but we feel that this could be restrictive for people who want to experience Mongolia’s countryside but who are intimidated by cycling.” He adds, “There are no prerequisites and you do not have to be a good cyclist to come, I want to open up the possibilities of exploring this stunning countryside to as many people as possible. If someone wants to come, bring a book and immerse themselves TIF children enjoying some bread

I want to open up the possibilities of exploring this stunning countryside

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Guests visiting TIF Kindergarten

in the tranquility of nature, of course they can do this, whatever is right for them.” Guests will begin the weekend with a visit to TIF’s kindergarten in Ulaanbaatar where they will meet some of the 50 children the charity currently looks after. After this, they will be transported to Tetelj Natural Park and treated to a Mongolian lunch which will include local and traditional dishes such as soups, stews and dumplings with vegan | 43


Itinerary Friday 29 June • Arrival of guests at Ulaanbaatar airport and transfer to a hotel in the city • Free evening

Saturday 30 June • TIF kindergarten early morning visit • 10:30am Transfer from kindergarten to resort in Tetelj Natural Park • 12pm Lunch and safety briefing at the resort • 2pm Bike ride on easy or expert trail • Mid afternoon - Free time - hikes, horse riding and temple visit (extra $) • 7:30pm Diner and debriefing at resort • 9pm Traditional Mongolian show

Sunday 1 July • 9:30am Safety briefing and presentation of the routes • 10am Bike ride on easy or expert trail • 12pm Lunch in countryside • 7pm Debriefing and closing speech • 8pm Dinner • 9pm Entertainment / free time • Transfer of guests to airport Sunday evening/Monday morning

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Tsolmon, Marc-Henry and their team is unique and rewarding in every sense. We were given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the magnificent Mongolian culture and countryside, and to see first hand the life-changing work of the TIF kindergarten. A truly wonderful experience.”

Friendly local offering flowers to the guests

Photo by C8X Photography

and vegetarian options available. After lunch guests can take the opportunity to explore their new surroundings on either the easy or expert bicycle trail. “The event caters for all,” says Lebrun. “Cyclists have the option to choose the easy trail, a gentle stroll that takes in Mongolia’s vast and stunning scenery or the expert trail which covers more than 50 kilometres on each of the two days.” Dinner will be followed by a traditional Mongolian show. After Sunday breakfast, guests will be offered a selection of cycling routes. A traditional countryside Mongolian lunch will be served enroute before dinner and entertainment back at the resort in the evening. Transfers to the airport can be arranged for that evening or the following morning. “Of course guests do not have to return to Hong Kong at that point,” adds Lebrun, “Some may want to spend a few more days in Mongolia to do horse riding, trekking or discover another region before heading back home and TIF will be on hand to assist with reputable and cost effective options.” Deborah Papworth, a lawyer from New York, who attended a previous TIF ride, said, “The bike ride through Mongolia organised by

Hong Kong-based photographer Paul Cox accompanied the couple on the first TIF Bike Ride in 2015 and fell in love with the country and its people, he now visits Mongolia several times a year. Another source of income for the charity comes from the ongoing Red Hero Charity Auction, an online sale of intimate and striking photographs taken by the photographer on his trips to Mongolia. “Red hero is the direct translation of Ulaanbaatar,” says Cox. His signed prints are unique, intimate and rare, “it takes a lot of trust for these people to allow me to take their picture, over a two week trip I aim to get 10 photographs that I am happy to put into the auction”. Of the scenery Cox adds, “It’s like nothing you will have seen before, it’s breathtaking and completely different to the world we are familiar with, I would encourage everyone to go”. Registration is HKD$4,700 (US$600) per person, including transport, insurance, food, accommodation, bicycle and safety equipment rental, excluding airfare. In addition, participants will be expected to raise donations, 100 per cent of which will be used to fund the TIF kindergarten for Ulaanbaatar’s poorest children. For more information or to make a donation visit To view photographs currently on display at Red Hero Charity Auction visit



To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.

To advertise, email or call 2776 2772 | 45


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To advertise, email or call 2776 2772



To advertise, email or call 2776 2772.

To advertise, email or call 2776 2772 | 47

feel good philosophy


Caique Loyolla from SHBJJ on the art of self defence and Hong Kong’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Revolution

Sparring at SHBJJ

BJJ instructors Caique Loyolla and Dangelo Vieira

My Feel Good Philosophy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s philosophy is for everybody. It will turn you into a better human being, a better father, a better brother, a better friend. BJJ is the best self defence art in the world because the self defence mentality goes far beyond the engagement in a fight. It goes around every aspect in your life - what you think (you learn how to think positively all the time), and how you feel (you learn to feel good things all the time). That’s the goal of Jiu Jitsu and why it’s growing so much. If students attend the right place, then usually they get addicted to BJJ. The Art Of Self Defence Our goal is not to turn students into war heroes, our goal is to make students increase their performance in life. Another nickname for BJJ is 48 |

Body Chess. You’ll work on your body and your mind. And, on a deeper level you’ll work on your spirit balance too. It’s a service for the community more than a competition sport. Women On The Mat Around the world there are many women practising BJJ. Jiu Jitsu was made to help weak people deal with strong people. In Hong Kong, we don’t have a strong girls’ community in BJJ, it’s still growing. Our programme will grow and we’ll give more space for girls, we’ll start classes just for women. Eating Right Nutrition is a strong part of BJJ, it’s part of the lifestyle, part of the self defence philosophy. When you choose what to eat, if you’re going to eat fast food, dirty food, then you’re not

Mini BJJ students

practicing the self defence philosophy of BJJ. If you control the quality of your food, the quality of your choices, then you’ll have a better life. 2018 Inspiration My goal for 2018 is this: day-by-day to try and be better than yesterday. To create small goals and try to work in small steps forward. Developing day-by-day how I think, how I talk, my relationship with society, my friends and my students. Mid-Levels’ Guilty Pleasure Ah, the night life is beautiful and fun. So many clubs, so many good restaurants, good food, live music – so many good things about this area. To deal with this, I started to teach every day at 5.30am so there’s no space for nightlife. This is how I’ve found I stay away from guilty pleasures! | 1

Mid-levels Feb 2018  
Mid-levels Feb 2018