FAMILY | FOOD | HOME | BOATS | BUNNIES
The best caterers while at sea
Sevenâ€™s guide inside
Plus how to have the best Rugby Sevens weekend of your life
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The really useful magazine
5 WHATS ON
24 HOME & LIVING
A round-up of happenings in April
Welcoming The Murray hotel
Rebecca Simpson visits the recently opened Stamford American School
38 HONG KONG CREATURES
14 FIVE MINUTES WITH...
Kids products for rainy days
Really local news
Robert Ferguson photographs spectacular owls in Hong Kong
Lynn Grebstad on her secrets of PR success and her love of Hong Kong
40 BIG DAY OUT
48 ZIM CITY
How to have the best Rugby Sevens weekend of your life
22 COVER STORY
30 MUST HAVE THIS MONTH
Fab things to win
Paul Kember of KPlusK talks us through a Shouson Hill private family residence
The best junk boat catering companies in Hong Kong
Tara Smyth explores Cheung Chau
Water taxi revival
19 “IF OPPORTUNITY DOESN’T KNOCK, BUILD A DOOR.” - MILTON BERLE
hongkongliving.com | 3
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Ophelia Giles ...moved to Hong Kong a month ago after travelling around Australia. She was born in the UK and raised in Spain, so she’s always travelled around! Her passion is writing, and outside of this she loves pilates, reading, and sipping the occasional glass of wine in the evenings. Ophelia blogs at pheerose.com
….took the photo for this month’s cover shot. Having moved to Hong Kong from Sydney, Brent has been in the photographic industry for over 10 years and covers everything from commercial to street photography. Follow Brent’s work on Facebook at Brent Pottinger Photography.
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y r Dia s e t da
Spartan Race Hong Kong Push your limits with the biggest obstacle course race in Hong Kong. Adults $860 to $1190. Kids $480 to $580 and coming in last, spectator admission at $50. Ha Pak Nai, Lau Fau Shan, Yuen Long. 2659 7268, spartanrace.hk
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UNTIL APR 15
Join Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang for the Disney Character Egg Hunt, with hundreds of eggs scattered around the Disneyland park and hotels. 3550 3388, hongkongdisneyland.com
Keith Sagaki showcases drawings inspired by the Baroque masters Vermeer, Caravaggio Rembrandt and Brueghel. Fabrik Gallery, Sheung Wan. 2525 4911, fabrik-gallery.com
UNTIL APR 5
UNTIL APR 15
Disney Springtime Carnival and EggStravaganza
The 42nd Hong Kong International Film Festival Screening over 250 titles from more than 55 countries, the Hong Kong International Film Festival is one of the city’s major cultural events. Tickets from URBTIX. 2970 3300, hkiff.org.hk
UNTIL APR 8
Garden of Wonder The Pacific Place pop-up will host multiple activities including “Surprise Happy Hours”, DIY floral painting and tasting sessions. 11am8pm, Shop 100A, Level 1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, gardenofwonder.hk
UNTIL APR 11
Hong Kong’s first sculpture park at Central Harbourfront Transformed by Harbour Arts Sculpture Park with works by local and international artists. Free admission to arts centres across Hong Kong. 2582 0200, harbourarts.hk
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Baroque Deconstruction: Strange Fruit by Keith Sagaki
Entertainment Expo Hong Kong 2018 International celebrities and directors head to the city for a series of events spotlighting some of the world's best in film, television, music and entertainment. 2584 4352, eexpohk.com
UNTIL APR 30
Strawberry Season Enjoy the great outdoors this spring with the family. The New Territories hosts a number of strawberry farms, including Tai Tong Organic Ecopark. Besides fruit picking, there are barbeques, pony rides, petting zoos and games. $130/adult, free for under threes, 9am6pm, Tai Tong Organic Ecopark, 11 Tai Tong Shan Road, Yuen Long, yl.hk/taitong
April Fool’s Day Don’t get fooled, folks!
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens Rugby madness descends on Hong Kong for three days of tries, tackles and copious amounts of beer. Gather your mates and get your fancy dress costume ironed out. All the action at Hong Kong Stadium. 2504 8311, hksevens.com
HKIS Worldâ€™s Fair The annual event celebrates Hong Kong's cultural diversity with international food, shopping and entertainment. 11am-3pm. Free entry. HKIS High School, 1 Red Hill Road, Tai Tam. 2812 5000, hkis.edu.hk
Public pools open First swim 6:30am
Knitting for Beginners A one hour workshop to guide you through the basics of knitting and you get to take home a pair of baby pom pom shoes. All supplies provided. $150. 11am-noon. The study, 5/F, LKF 29, 29 Wyndham Street, Central. 6997 2023, knittingroomhk.com/workshops
Easter Monday Head to a brunch, a beach or simply stay home and feast on chocolate.
Ching Ming Festival
Grave Sweeping Day or yet another lay in.
Fun and games at HKIS fair, Apr 14
Inviting stand up paddlers of any age, Sai Kung Hong Kong SUP League is back with distance range of 200m Sprint Race to Elite Distance Race 10km. $150 to $1,700, VRC Sai Kung and VRC Deep Water Bay, hksupba.com.
Transform your old or unwanted clothes into new creative pieces. $130, 7-9pm, The MakerHive Hong Kong, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 10F, 12P Smithfield Road, Kennedy Town. facebook.com/ExploreUPcycleReInvent/
Budding startups mingle with potential investors. If you are neither, go along to keep up with the latest technology trends. Tickets $525 to $2,380. AsiaWorld Expo. 2555 4828, launchpadhk.com
US comedian Tom Rhodes debuts at Take Out Comedy Central. $300, April 12, 8pm, Champs, 209 Wan Chai Road. $350, April 13 and 14, 9pm, Take Out Comedy Club, 34 Elgin Street. 6220 4436, takeoutcomedy.com
Hong Kong SUP League 2018
Stand Up Comedy with Tom Rhodes
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what's on APR 14
APR 14 Peak 24
Servant of Two Masters
Try your hand at the ancient art of calligraphy. $950 or two people for $1,600. Room 201, Ivy House, 18-20 Wyndham Street, Central. 6028 1237, kalomakeart.com
This relay-style marathon is a charity event fighting against human trafficking. 8am. Tickets $500 for individuals, $5000 for a team. 158A Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun, peak24.org
Young actors from Faust International Youth Theatre perform this vibrant comedy set in the 1980s. Tickets $220 for adults and $180 for children from urbtix.hk. Thursday to Saturday, 7.30pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. McAulay Studio, Hong Kong Arts Centre 2 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. 2547 9114, faustworld.com.hk
Calligraphy Workshop in Central
Wall Rope Yoga Not satisfied with a simple “downward dog”? Enhance your body and mind while hanging from a wall. $880 for Pure members, $990 for non members. Pure Yoga, Asia Standard Tower, 59-65 Queen's Road Central. 8178 0000, pure-yoga.com
Eggs Benedict Day Just in case you needed an excuse to indulge.
Kombucha Workshop Learn how to make a delicious drink with a range of health benefits including detoxification, cancer prevention and digestion improvement. $680, 7- 8:30pm. Sesame Kitchen, Room A, 21F Yiuga Factory Building, No.62 Victoria Road, Kennedy Town. 2884 1299, foodcraft.hk/ collections/classes/products/kombucha-class
APR 19 TO JUNE 3 Cirque du Soleil's Kooza
Kid-friendly and with all the colour and off-thewall skill, Cirque du Soleil has become famous for. Tickets $488 to $1888. Central Harbourfront Event Space. 3018 4032, asiaboxoffice.com
Millinery Workshop Learn how to craft the perfect fascinator and increase your knowledge on Royal millinery and their culture. $1200, 3-6pm, Artisan Blossoms, 2/F, 37 Staunton Street, Central. 5594 3343, facebook.com/artisanblossoms/
Aqua Terra Terramar upgraded their route this year with extra 4km seeing aquathon runners and swimmer are getting stronger. Price starts at $280 Start time is at 8.45am at South Bay Beach S Bay Rd, Repulse Bay and end time 1pm finishing at Hong Kong Park View, BBQ site 88 Tai Tam Reservoir Rd, Tai Tam. 6139 8179, terramar.hk
Women's 5km Run An intense fitness program for women in Hong Kong capped off 5km run. The Women’s Five event $390, $780 for two, full-program $800 and $1600 which includes yoga videos and meetups. 8.30am. Aberdeen Country Park womensfive.com
Live Stand Up Comedy with Ollie Horn
British born, Japan-based comedian comes to Hong Kong. Tickets $250, 9pm, Take Out Comedy Club, 34 Elgin Street, 6220 4436, takeoutcomedy.com
Stretching out before the 5km
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BOOK NOW MAY 1-6
MAY 11 - JUN 3
The St Petersburg Ballet Theatre: Swan Lake
"Don't cry for me Argentina" Andrew Lloyd Webber classic Evita tells the tale of Argentina’s iconic first lady, Eva Perón. Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Tickets from $445 to $1,045 on hkticketing.com.hk
World-class ballet company, St Petersburg Ballet promises the full Swan Lake experience, renowned for its dazzling sets and exquisite costumes. Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Standard tickets from $445 to $995 at hkticketing.com.hk
International Schools Expo
Never have education choices been more exciting - or more complicated.The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) has put together an event that brings together schools, businesses, future employers and students. 9am-5pm, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai.
Harry Styles Live On Tour former boyband favourite Harry Styles is coming back to Hong Kong to perform his self-titled debut album released globally in May, 8pm. VIP Package starts at $2,888. Standard tickets range from $488 to $1,288 Hall 5BC, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai.
Want to share your event with our readers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
GIVEAWAYS Grand Prize - Two-night stay at Angsana Lang Co, Vietnam With summer fast approaching, we’re treating one lucky couple to a two-night stay at Angsana Lang Co, Vietnam. Relax and enjoy your stay at this beachside resort with complimentary daily breakfast and airport shuttle services. No seaside vacation is complete without great beach accessories - so we’re also giving away two beautiful beach bags by Makaron. Enter now to win both prizes, worth a total of $7,000!
win at hongkongliving.com
Seven years since their Hong Kong debut, soft rock trio The Script are back in town with their new album Freedom Child on April 24. Known for hits such as Hall of Fame, Breakeven, the Irish band has topped the UK charts with three multi-platinum albums. Tickets available at hkticketing.com We are giving away two pairs of tickets, valued at $2,320 in total.
Founded in 2016, Plastic-free HK aims to provide an eco-friendly shopping alternative in Hong Kong. All products are either items that you can keep reusing or are made of, and packaged with organic materials that would degrade naturally. Find out more at plasticfreehk.com We are happy to give away a zerowaste bathroom kit and a zero-waste shaving kit, valued at $765 in total.
Woodland’s Summer Programmes
Suitable for children aged 3 to 14, Faust International’s week long Summer Theatre programme empowers children through drama and performance skills. While their Creative Writing programme sees kids, aged 6 to 13 years develop their writing skills and creativity in a fun, relaxed environment. faustworld.com/prog_summer.asp Faust International Youth Theatre is offering one reader a place at either the Summer Theatre or Creative Writing programme. This prize is valued at $2,980, use between June 25 and August 24. Workshops will be held in Sheung Wan, Kowloon (KGV School) and Discovery Bay.
Woodland Pre-Schools’ new summer programme encourage our little ones to discover a wide range of interests including drama, music, science, cooking and design. Summer Sports and Games Programme are also on offer from July 3 to August 10. Open to children aged 6 months to 7 years. woodlandschools.com We are giving away three Summer Programmes, valued from $3,350 each.
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Ready and waiting for the Doggie Dash
Dozens of pugs and dachshunds will descend on a tiny laneway in Sheung Wan this month to race and raise money for Hong Kong Dog Rescue. Hong Kong’s first Doggie Dash will see up to 100 dogs sprint a 20-metre course on April 15, all vying for the title of Hong Kong’s fastest pug or weiner. The Doggie Dash aims to raise muchneeded funds for the non-profit organisation that seeks to save lost or unwanted canines from government animal management centres. Since its inception in 2003, HKDR has saved more than 7,000 dogs.
Marilyn Ho, who co-organised the event with Angelina Shin-Manley, said “I am a firm believer of the ‘adopt don’t shop’ philosophy,” adding “the only expectations we have for the day are to bring the community together and raise awareness for animals in need of a home.” Racer registration open from 12.30pm to 1.30pm. Races start at 2pm sharp at Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan. Spectators are welcome and can attend for free. The racing fee for each dog is $130. facebook.com/hkdoggiedash
Wild boar enjoys a dip in the harbour Wild boar sightings are a regular and often comical occurrence across Hong Kong, with police engaging in dramatic chases in some of the most inconvenient locations. But this wild boar, spotted swimming in Victoria Harbour off Kennedy Town, was under no such pressure until it made landfall. On March 14, Facebook user Cheuk Wai Lim posted photos and a video of the animal paddling in the busy shipping waters off Kennedy Town. It was not until the pig came ashore and started meandering through the city streets, looking for food, that police armed with shields started to give chase eventually ending up in Belcher Bay Park. The wild boar was later caught by personnel from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department at around 9pm. Native to Hong Kong forests, wild boars are one of the largest land mammal in the city and can weigh up to 200kg. As such, they regularly
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Taking a dip in the harbour
make headlines when they venture into town. In one high-profile boar chasing case in December 2016, one of the animals found its way onto the tarmac at Hong Kong International Airport, halting flights and causing a dramatic chase across runways.
Major renovation work is set to begin this month on the city’s Central to Mid-Levels Escalator and Walkway System. On March 1, work began on the first phase of the project, which covers the section between Conduit Road and Robinson Road. Residents living near each section will be given leaflets detailing the work to be carried out. The work on the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world is being carried out to replace ageing components and therefore make maintenance of the system easier, according to reports. Rising upkeep costs and more frequent breakdowns were also said to be a factor. About 78,000 people use the 800-metre escalator system each day. The four-year, $128 million project is the first overhaul of the iconic structure since it opened in 1993. The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said each phase of the project will take about four to five months to complete.
Photo by Seader via Wikimedia Commons
Four year MidLevels escalator upgrade kicks off
Photo by Isaac Lawrence
City dogs dash for a cause
Parking your car is about to get a bit more pricey Fees at Hong Kong’s public car parks are going up again next month. From May 1, 12 facilities including Kennedy Town, Rumsey Street in Sheung Wan, Star Ferry and City Hall car parks will see a general rate increase of $100 per month, with daily and hourly charges increasing by $5 and $1 respectively. Monthly fees for cars and trucks will now be between $1,400 and $5,900, while motorcycle riders will have to pay $320. Day rates for cars and
vans will be $60 to $160, and $55 to $90 for night parking, while new hourly parking rates will range from $10 to $22 for different sites. Announcing the increase, the Transport Department said it had taken into account inflation rates since the last parking fees adjustment in March last year, the charges of other private car parks and utilisation rates of its facilities.
Mount Nicholson flats top the market An unknown buyer has forked out a record $151,785 per square foot for a flat on the Peak, claiming the title of Asia’s priciest purchase by area. For almost $1.4 billion, the buyer secured the 9,217-square-foot flat in the Mount Nicholson development, owned by Wheelock Properties. The record-breaking price-tag tops a sale in the same development last November, when a private buyer paid $131,000 per square foot for a property about half the size.
Local French eatery’s fumes on the nose A local court last month slapped a popular Sai Ying Pun French restaurant with a $10,000 fine for emitting excessive cooking fumes. On March 12, High Street restaurant St Barts was convicted of violating the Air Pollution Control Ordinance with its cooking fumes. The case came before Eastern Magistrates’ Court almost a year after Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department received a complaint against the restaurant. The department said upon investigation, it found St Barts had failed to install proper cooking fume and odour control equipment. A spokesman for the department urged food businesses to install effective air pollution control equipment, and have regular cleaning and servicing “to avoid causing air nuisance to the public”. First-time offenders can be hit with a maximum fine of $100,000, while repeat convictions can result in fines of up to $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. The government convicted 58 Hong Kong businesses for breaches of its rules in February alone, with eight of those relating to air pollution control.
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Government building transformed into luxe hotel Hong Kong has welcomed The Murray to its five-star hotel repertoire. Carolynne Dear went along for a look
n old 1960s government highrise on Cotton Tree Drive has metamorphosed into a five-star hotel, a welcome addition to Hong Kong’s luxury hotel scene. Sitting snug between the Peak Tram terminal, Hong Kong Park and the Cheung Kong Centre, The Murray is wonderfully located in the heart of the city. The views over the park, St John’s Cathedral and across Victoria Harbour to ICC from its 336 guest rooms are some of the best in town. The distinctive white building with its huge ground-floor archways was originally designed by Architectural Services Department worker Ron Philips in 1969 for the then-colonial government. The brief was to come up with an office block to accommodate the Public Works Department. But Philips designed a 27-storey building so innovative that modernday buildings struggle to compete with its environmental features.
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To reduce air conditioning costs, Philips designed the building with its windows sheltered by concrete ‘fins’ positioned at 90 degrees to the panes to avoid direct sunlight hitting the glass. This passive design was considered innovative enough to win the Certificate of Merit of the Energy Efficient Building Award in 1994. In 1969, it was well ahead of its time and as present day architects have pointed out, the modern day glass highrises that sit shimmering in the Asian sun today don’t seem to have been quite so design-savvy. Philips is now in his 90s and living in Britain, but he was invited by the project’s lead architect Foster + Partners to consult on The Murray’s conversion and last December he flew out to Hong Kong for the official opening of the hotel. The building and site had been bought from the government in 2011 by developer Wharf Holdings for $4.4 billion, with a further $3.4 billion spent on the redevelopment.
Although the sale of government land to a private party was controversial at the time, The Murray is part of the Conserving Central project which aims to preserve what’s left of Central’s historic heart. This has ensured a sympathetic re-design and subsequent new lease of life. Heritage constraints meant the height of the building could not be altered and original features such as the sweeping archways and clever vehicle ramps that feed off from busy Cotton Tree Drive had to be left in place. The re-design beautifully ‘opens up’ the building with floor-to-ceiling glass at the lower levels and multiple entry points. The concrete car park has been replaced with gardens and outdoor spaces - the dining room spills out onto a terraced area shaded by a 139-year-old listed Rainbow Shower Tree, which is the centrepiece of the gardens. The distinctive arches were installed by Philips to solve the problem of steep
local inclines limiting access to the car park. But as it transpired, the archways not only made the base of the building more accessible for vehicles back in the ‘60s, today they provide fantastic shade and rain protection, enabling a superb outdoor venue that is protected from the elements. The space will be known as The Arches and can host up to 350 guests. The Murray boasts Murray Lane, a modern, sleek Wall Street-inspired cocktail bar which will no doubt become a welcome watering hole with workers from the neighbouring central business district - the cocktail menu is named The Tape and features tipples including ‘Opening Bell’ and ‘Nifty Fifty’ as a nod to its locale. The afternoon tea was delicious - the perfectly warmed and fresh scones were a highlight - and located close to top tourist sites St John’s Cathedral and the Peak tram station. As a stop-off for foot-sore site-seers it couldn’t be better placed. In June a rooftop bar and restaurant is due to be opened. The Murray will eventually offer five restaurants and bars, including modern European restaurant The Tai Pan, the Garden Lounge, Popinjays rooftop bar and restaurant (opening in June), and Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Guo Fu Lou. The guest rooms are, as you would expect of such a high spec re-design, top notch, with
freestanding bathtubs, spacious living areas and superb views over the historic heart of Central. Bells and whistles include a guest-only gym overlooking Hong Kong Park, personal trainers who can design indoor or outdoor programmes and a personal nutritionist. An additional option
that will interest Hong Kong’s socialites is a ballroom. Indeed I’m looking forward to many happy moments in this fabulous new addition to Central’s hotel scene. The Murray, 22 Cotton Tree Dr, Central, niccolohotels.com M
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five minutes with
Mid Levels resident Lynn Grebstad just exited the luxury PR company she founded. She shares some of the secrets of success and her love of Hong Kong It’s a strange time for me. I am exiting the luxury PR company I built. It’s a perfect exit, and I know we have done well, but it feels weird to be leaving. I started the company in a shared office with a friend and grew it into Asia’s leading luxury lifestyle PR agency with over 70 staff in five cities. The business suddenly came together. One day, a few months in, on a flight somewhere, my business partner (Paul Hicks) and I jotted down our revenue numbers on the back of an airplane sick bag. We looked at each other and said “Wow, this is really working!” Remember its PR, not ER! Clients and colleagues enjoy working with someone who likes to have some fun with work. If client drops you, just get over it. Failures happen. I partnered in a restaurant once… We had gathered what we liked to think of as the “dream team” - one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated chefs, an experienced restaurateur, a designer, and a PR company… what could go wrong? We did not factor in a jealous landlord that set out to destroy our business from the opening night, we called it a day after a couple of years! My first job was as an air stewardess. I always loved the idea of being a glamorous stewardess, jetting around the world at someone else’s expenses. I worked in the Middle East as well as out of the UK for British Airways. It was one of the greatest things I’ve done in my life and three of my greatest friends today were with me when I started British Airways. I arrived in Hong Kong in 1982 and joined the hotel business – it was a natural progression from the airline industry. I worked for the Regal Hotel in TST, The Peninsula and finally The Regent (now the InterContinental) before going into the corporate world of PR at Peninsula Hotels.
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Hong Kong is about relationships. Networking is not a chore for me, I love being out, socialising and finding out what people do and what makes them tick. I suppose that’s part of a PR’s job and it’s certainly helped me to build some incredible relationships over the years. The worst time was when SARS hit Hong Kong. We had to put our people on part-time and just take any business that we could to survive. But survive we did. I love our Mid levels home. We bought our apartment in McDonnell Road at the turn of the century. It’is unbelievably peaceful despite being right in the heart of the city. Bowen Road is a treasure. We’ve had labrador dogs since we moved here and Bowen Road
has been our savior – although you do have to be careful with the dogs as there have been cases of poisoning over the years, which always put you on edge. Don’t be afraid to ask. Hong Kong people are always willing to help. There is always someone to share their experience and advice. I love Hong Kong, the city waits for no one and that’s why I have enjoyed doing business here. I wish the city valued its past. So many beautiful historic buildings have been torn down. I wish more was done to support the lives of the older generations of Hong Kong people. They created this incredible place for us all. We owe them. My motto? Onwards and upwards! M
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Survive the Sevens like a pro
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Hereâ€™s your guide to all the action
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he craziest weekend of the year is here! The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is back from 6-8 April at the Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay. Prepare to see crazy costumes, hear people sing Sweet Caroline and watch a full weekend of the fantastic game that is rugby. The Sevens offers something for everyone, here’s our guide to making this the best weekend of the year.
You need a costume
Plan out costume choices with your friends early so that you have time to coordinate. Head to the fancy dress stalls on Pottinger Street for all things colorful and cheap, from political masks to purple wigs and baby pink tutus. If you don’t fancy braving the crowds before the game check out Matteo Party’s selection of costumes at matteoparty.com For creatives with more time, head to Sham Shui to Po purchase textiles, ribbons and feathers and make your own costume. Ki Lung Street is packed with shops and stalls selling stacks of fabrics. Don’t forget to haggle the prices down! If you’re rooting for Hong Kong, you can find Hong Kong Sevens jerseys at kukrisports.hk
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Hong Kong Sevens team
Line your stomach
Before enjoying a weekend of sport, a a dance and a beer or two it’s a good idea to line your stomach. Pre party options include; The Valley Sevens Long Lunch The 21st Annual Long Lunch is the perfect way to kick off The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens weekend. This year the lunch will be held at The Conrad Hotel and a shuttle bus will be on hand to transport guests to the stadium. The three course lunch includes free flow drinks and British comedian Jeff Green will be there to entertain you. An afternoon of glamour and laughter all in support of children’s charities across Asia.
When: April 6, 12:30 - 4:30pm Where: The Conrad Hotel Price: $2,300 per person Fanzone Fun Popular shopping centre in the heart of Causeway Bay, Lee Gardens is being transformed into rugby fan heaven for the 16 days leading up to and during the weekend. All matches will be live-streamed and entertainment will include eSports competitions, DJ’s and
Who’s taking part? South Africa Argentina Australia Canada England Fiji France Kenya New Zealand Russia Samoa Scotland Spain United States Wales
South Korea Japan Hong Kong Uganda Zimbabwe Jamaica Chile Uruguay Germany Georgia Ireland Papua New Guinea Cook Islands
Fiji celebrate their third consecutive Cup triumph at the 2017 Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
many more goings on. This event is about much more than just rugby and will be enjoyable for the whole family. When: 24 March - 8 April Where: Lee Gardens Price : Free entry
Where to go if you don’t have a ticket
If you can’t get hold of tickets to the Rugby Sevens this year, don’t fret! We have places you can go to and still enjoy a full weekend of fun. Sevens Village The HSBC Sevens Village provides a stadium like atmosphere and sits directly opposite the Hong Kong Stadium. All the matches are live streamed onto giant screens, food and drink is available to buy and there will be tonnes of activities for kids. When: 6-8 April (Friday from 12pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8am) Where: Opposite Hong Kong Stadium at The Village, IRC, 63 Caroline Hill Road, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay Price: Free Entry
When: 6 - 8 April Where: Seasons Restaurant Price: Four Carlsberg beers or two Sacred Hill glasses of wine for $100
For the lucky ones who do have tickets
At the heart of the action you can enjoy world class rugby and a lively atmosphere like no other. With Fiji bidding for their first ever four-peat in the tournaments 43 year history! Each match is seven minutes each way so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to top up your pint. The stadium opens at 8am on Friday morning for the Mini Rugby Showcase, before the Women’s kick off at 10.30am. On Saturday and Sunday the stadium opens at 7am and the first match is at 9am on Saturday and 9.30am on Sunday. Be sure to get there early if you’re hoping to get into the infamous South Stand, queues are notoriously long.
When: 6-8 April Where: Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay Kick-off concert Don’t forget to catch the kick-off concert, with a performance from legendary Birmingham Reggae troupe, UB40. The band is made up of three original members, Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue, who topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and have sold 70 million records during their career. They will be performing a mixture of old classics and latest hits to help get you into the party mood. When: April 5 Where : Queen Elizabeth Stadium, 18 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai Price: From $288, hksevens.com/eventinfo/2018-kickoff-concert
Sevens Clubhouse The Sevens Clubhouse is a relaxing area located in Seasons Restaurant, they are offering special drinks deals, big screens to watch the matches and live acoustic music. A relaxing rugby experience without the stadium antics.
Did you know? Ireland is competing for the first time in 18 years since they won the bowl in 2000
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Post match celebrations
If a day at the rugby isn’t enough to satisfy your party needs, fear not, as Hong Kong offers an amazing after-party scene. Official Hong Kong Sevens Rugby After Party This week-long official Hong Kong Sevens after party will take place in Lan Kwai Fong from April 2. On offer, beer and street food, photo opportunities and even a marching band to keep you in the sporting spirit all week long. When: 2-8 April from 9:30 pm Where: Lan Kwai Fong Price: Free entry
The morning after
All that partying, dancing and one beer too many may have left you with a slightly sore head. Hong Kong’s many restaurants offer that all-important recovery brunch. Some of our favourites are; The Flying Pan: Situated in Central, this is the place to go if you’re in need of a nice breakfast and bottomless coffee. Scrummy food options include ranchero eggs, omelettes, pancakes and waffles, and they serve breakfast all day, seven days a week. Ho Fook Building, 9 Old Bailey St, Central, 2140 6333, the-flying-pan.com Linguini Fini: A plate of pasta is as comfy as a warm hug. This Italian restaurant makes theirs fresh. Order main course of either pasta, 2 slices of daily pizza special, secondi, or grilled pizza wrap and add +$99 for a semi-buffet. Antipasti & fresh seafood buffet $199. Choose free flow of alcohol; either prosecco, peroni free pour or build your own bloody mary for +$99. Noon4pm. 49 Elgin Street, Central, 2387 6338, linguinifini.com
Max Woodward in action
CÉ LA VI: More alcohol! For a boozy brunch, head to the top of California tower in Lan Kwai Fong. Ce La Vi serves weekend brunch at $488, add $398 for free flow Champagne Veuve Clicquot Rosé or Champagne and France Veuve Clicquot $298. Noon-3pm. 25/F California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar St, Central 3700 2300, hk.celavi.com
The Optimist: Hair of the Dog is a tried and tested way to cure a hangover. The optimist is a Northern Spanish style restaurant which offers a reasonably priced weekend brunch menu with free-flow alcohol and a tasty buffet. Buffet priced at $348 with free flow add on for $180. Kids menu priced at $98. Noon-2.30pm. G/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2433 3324, theoptimist.hk Jojo’s Indian: For a good old-fashioned curry head to this authentic buffet-style Indian restaurant. Jojo’s provides delicious starters, mains and desserts for a great price. The recently launched weekend brunch is priced at very reasonable $168 per person with free flow beer included. Noon-3pm. 2/f David House, No.37-39 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong, 2527 3776, jojofood.com
Book monday off work
That three day hangover is bound to kick in and there’s nothing worse than trying to work through it!
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60 seconds with Rowan Varty
Rowan Varty captained the Hong Kong Sevens team from 2011 to 2013 and stills plays professionally. He shares his Sevens tips.
How do you prepare for Rugby Sevens? A lot of hard work and consistency!
What is it like to play in the tournament? Everything you can imagine it would be and a little more. Although the last couple of years have been a bit quieter as less Hong Kong fans go to the event and those from overseas donâ€™t cheer Hong Kong quite as loudly!
What is the first step to becoming a Rugby Sevens player? Most of us started playing rugby at Mini Clubs in Hong Kong. If you want to play, go down and get involved, Iâ€™m sure kids and parents will have a great time and meet some great people. Find
your nearest Mini Club. Sandy Bay is perfect for people living on the island.
How did you get into rugby? My parents took me to the Sevens every year. My friend and I watched the kids playing and wanted to get involved. We joined Kai Tak Tigers mini rugby and went from there.
What were your position, roles and awards?
Rowan Varty former captain of Hong Kong team
2011-2013 and was lucky enough to be the first hk captain to win the Asian Sevens series. I won 2 silver medals at the Asian games, as well as a silver in the national games of the PRC. I was also part of the team which won the shield at the hk sevens in 2010.
Tips for watching Rugby Sevens? Upper west stand is the place to be!
I captained the Hong Kong Sevens team from
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Food for junks
All smiles aboard Lazydays
Start planning your first junk of the season with our guide to the best catering at sea Chicken on the Run Chicken on the Run is an Australian-style takeaway restaurant which offers hearty and healthy dishes including beef, fish, salads, sides and of course, freshly roasted Australian chickens. Junk sets range from $116 to $140, be sure to end the feast on a sweet note with delicious and chocolatey brownie bites. No1 Princes Terrace Hong Kong. 2537 8285, chickenontherun.com
Cali-Mex For a Mexican twist order a fresh, delicious platter from Cali-Mex. Choices include crunchy nachos, stuffed burritos and cheesy quesadillas delivered straight to your boat, which all go down a treat with a margarita or two in hand. Catering from 10 to 15 guests from $88 - $168 per person. G/F 7 LKF, Central. 2904 7698, cali-mex.com
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Chicken Vietnamese salad
Luxury Yachting Michelangelo Michelangelo gives you 5 star treatment on the seas with dining and living quarters on board for overnight events. They offer canapé and cocktail menus as well as a buffet selection for seated dinners prepared onboard by a private chef. Living quarters can sleep up to nine overnight guests. 2275 3111, michelangelocruises.com
Living it up on Michelangelo
Six boat options include a super deluxe 85 ft yacht. Add ons include onboard spa treatments, wakeboarding and an infant paddling pool for little ones. Wellbehaved dogs are also allowed onboard. Fully catered packages from $820 per adult. Menu options include paleo, vegetarian and roast meats. 3488 1534, lazydays.com.hk
This restaurant offers a fusion of Korean and Mexican, on offer are sweet spices and unique combinations, such as TaKorea’s famous K-pop chicken and eggplant burritos. Perfect for an energy boost while out at sea. TaKorea offers four junk catering sets ranging from light snacks to the Ultra feast package, prices range from $600 to $2,000 depending on how many people are onboard and how hungry you are! 1/F Graham St, Central. 2488 8024, facebook.com/TaKoreaHK/
A sophisticated French dining experience which includes homemade French dishes such as Quiche Lorraine, roast chicken and exquisite cheese platters. This one is for those who are feeling indulgent. Junk catering packages range from $150 to $350 per person and in typical French style, all sets including fresh bread. 121 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan. 3105 8077, mrchatte.com.hk
A luxury yachting company who provide worry-free breaks from the city. Onboard amenities include DeLonghi espresso machines and showers with optional add ons including a professional masseuse and a speed boat for wakeboarding or wakesurfing. Full day at sea package including breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and drinks from $16,350 for 15 people. 6180 5059, breakawayhk.com
Invisible Kitchen For the health-conscious, Invisible Kitchen are well-known for providing high quality food made from natural ingredients. Three different junk sets are on offer, Essentials, Classic and Deluxe which include a variety of salads, pastas and sandwiches as well as some tasty treats for dessert. Prices range from $200 to $350 per person with a minimum of 15 people. Honour Industrial Centre, 6 Sun Yip St, Chai Wan. 2711 5788, invisiblekitchen.com
il Bel Paese
Escape to the Mediterranean for the day! For a true Italian experience, il Bel Paese offers a special junk package which includes Italian classics such as bruschetta, cherry mozzarella and tomato and pesto pasta salads. A fresh fruit platter is on offer to keep you hydrated. Junk sets range from $280 to $400 per person, add on wine and beer packages from $430. 85 Caine Rd, Mid-level. 2868 1300, ilbelpaese.com.hk
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home & living
Space for contemplation
Ophelia Giles talks to Paul Kember of KPlusK about creating a space for harmony
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home & living
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home & living
aul Kember, director of KplusK associates was given a brief to create an idealistic modernised family home; he decided to take ambition from modernist designers from the 1940s through to the 1960s, which he says, “although is an old way of thinking, it’s also tangibly real”. Some people, spiritual or not, might imagine owning a home which gives them a sense of contentment and prosperity, a home constructed entirely of natural materials which gives the space a characteristically beautiful quality; a space which, to be engulfed within gives you a sense of well-being and an appreciation for allowing that naturalness into your daily life. This is the main thought process behind Kember’s insightful design.
A thought provoking design The aim of this project was to convert a 6000 square foot standard house in Shouson hill
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into a modern private residence. With stunning views across the Hong Kong golf course and Repulse Bay iminent in the distance, the challenge presented was to make the inside of the house compliment the picturesque scene beyond it.
Starting from scratch The entire place was ripped up so that Kember could start his design from scratch. The remodelling process had a main focus of creating a family home with a secure level of privacy, with areas for entertaining guests and areas for family gatherings. For instance, the kitchen was designed as a family space which floods with natural light in the mornings, making for a perfect place for a coffee kick before the day begins. His inspiration behind the design came from the 1960s modernism of John Lautner, an American architect who used a generous
amount of natural daylight in order to bring surfaces to life. Knowing this, the redesign also revolved around allowing as much light as possible to flood into certain areas of the home in a well-thought out way.
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home & living Clever rooms One thing Mr Kember wanted to concentrate on was supplementing clever secret rooms as an added feature to the home. Just off the living room, for instance, there is access to a secret powder room, which has a 120 millimeter door constructed with no door frame so that it might be deceived as part of the wall. There is also an audio file room which is acoustically isolated from the rest of the house, so that any noise from within might not interrupt the on-goings from the rest of the house. Any storage space is also designed to be minimalistic and hidden. “Key things in luxury houses are rooms featuring as abstract simple space where the homeowner can conceal storage without it being evident” adds Kember.
God is in the detail The idea behind the interior design of the home was to follow old modernist principles of combining different materials to work together in perfect visionary harmony. “The space becomes a blank canvas that one can enjoy the same way one might enjoy an art gallery. It gives a person an area of contemplation to enjoy without unnecessary clutter. The key component of the experience is to make sure the homeowner is surrounded by beautiful objects that gives this pure ‘zen’ impression of tranquility.” Kember chose to model the area with pure natural interiors such as tarnetine walls, bleached oak timber floors and azure blue stone; this stone was used for the gorgeous staircase which runs through the centre of the house. Cut to 40 milimeters thick from one single slab of stone and highlighted by it’s crystal-glass banister, it’s no wonder that all the focus lighting is concentrated onto it.
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must have this month ittle Bean’s Toy Chest Activity Book: L “I Love Hong Kong” $390 from Little Beans Toy Chest 6310 6329 littlebeanstoychest.com Hubble & Duke gumboots yellow $360 from Mirth m/f, BT Centre, 23 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 2553 9811 mirthhome.com
Rainy day clothes and toys for little girls and boys
PandaBoo Hoodie and Bib Set $280 from Bamboa Shop S304, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2291 0285 bamboahome.com
Parker the Bear $498 from Seedling 2803 0134 seedling.com.hk Fish Xylophone $980 from The Little Door thelittledoor-hk.com
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must have this month
Holly and Beau Umbrella $198 from Kyle and Vivian 5531 8597 kyleandvivian.com
BiBiB & Co Carpet Dark Brown Bear Henry $1,198 from Petit Bazaar 9 Gough Street, Central, 2544 2255 Petit-bazaar.com Holly and Beau Raincoat $488 from Kyle and Vivian 5531 8597 kyleandvivian.com
Bamboo Fiber Kiddies Set $250 from Bamboa Shop S304, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2291 0285 bamboahome.com
QToys “Let’s have tea!” Japanese tea set $340 from Little Beans Toy Chest 6310 6329 littlebeanstoychest.com
Haba Animal upon Animal $309 from Tic Tac Toe 6770 9794 tictactoe.com.hk
Storage Box Oak $595 from Tree 28/Floor, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, 2870 1582 Tree.com.hk Personalised Top Loading Backpack $329 from Stuck On You 2549 2245 stuckonyou.hk
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A tale of two cities
Rebecca Simpson finds out how Stamford American School is fitting into Hong Kongâ€™s school scene
Stamford American School Hong Kong opened its doors last August
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s a staunch supporter of all things Hong Kong, it’s somewhat painful for me to write this, but, Singapore is really kicking some goals at the moment. In this year’s Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey, Singapore leaped eleven spots and is now officially more liveable than Hong Kong. Ouch. It’s said that improvements to education played a part in the Lion City’s rocket up the EIU liveability chart. So it’s of great
Grade two students hard at work
interest to our city that Stamford American School has now opened in Hong Kong, following in the footsteps and format of its very successful sister school in Singapore, Stamford American International School Singapore. According to Head of School here in Hong Kong, Karrie Dietz, the success of the Singapore campus is organically infused into Stamford Hong Kong. Even a selection of Singapore’s teaching faculty has been
Enjoying an art lesson
transferred over to ensure the school’s DNA is replicated in our city. So what makes Stamford American School in Singapore so successful? “Ninety per cent of our students in Singapore get their top choice of university,” says Dietz, who is one of the staff members who has moved over from Singapore to establish the school. She brings more than 20 years experience across many countries and is no stranger to Asia’s curriculum challenges having developed the Singapore school’s bilingual program. According to Dietz, Stamford graduates are not only successful university applicants, they’re also engaged young adults with a sense of purpose. She says their time at Stamford is spent developing higher level thinking skills, ensuring that they’re able to analyze and synthesize and evaluate. She continues, “They’re not just graduating with the ability to get into universities, they’re motivated to make a difference and impact the world in positive ways.” Stamford’s approach to its curriculum is to splice a conservative standards based education with a more progressive inquirybased approach. This fusion means students will be exposed to inquiry based learning while being supported with a more traditional assessment-based foundation. The school uses the AERO standards and
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education benchmarks (American Education Reaches Out), which are based on the Common Core. This approach provides vertical alignment – what is taught to students in one grade level is preparing them for the next grade level. “Another benefit of being a standards based school is we also give the MAP (measure of academic progress) assessments,” says Dietz. “The teachers can see exactly where a student is at. The MAP assessments are run twice a year, at the beginning and the end of the year so we can measure a student’s growth.” At the progressive end, the school offers an inquiry based curriculum so they’re engaging the students in hands-on activities and trying to find where the students’ interests lie. Dietz is very familiar with the IB curriculums preferred by many of the city’s international schools, she is a workshop leader for the PYP (Primary Years Program) and has experience as a curriculum coordinator, as a director of teaching and learning, with all three IB programs – PYP, MYP and DP. This experience means the school will forge its own approach, Ms. Dietz explains, “We’ll take the best of the PYP and MYP – the inquiry-based portion - and the best teaching strategies and implement those.” At the Hong Kong Campus they are currently in the process of applying for the IB Diploma accreditation. Like so many international schools in Hong Kong, Stamford American School takes the importance of STEAM very seriously and has integrated their STEMINN program into the day-to-day experience of students of all ages.
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The school is all about having fun as well as learning
“We have an innovation lab which students attend at least once a week. We have a STEMINN coordinator who teaches the students once a week but also helps the teachers in planning so that STEMINN doesn’t just happen in the innovation centre. “For example, in Grade 1, students are using bots to carry out simple coding, but this is integrated with art. They’re painting fun maps, then they lay a grid over the map that they’ve painted and they can have their bot visit places on that map. So we’re integrating maths and art in a fun way.” The arts is also a focus point for the school. There are specialist teachers for art, drama and music, each given the same remit as the Innovations centre – to weave the arts into daily school life. In terms of bi-lingual and ESL offerings, the school offers two special programs in pre-primary and grade one - ALP
(Accelerated Language Program) for students who are finding challenges with English. Bi-Lingual (Mandarin and English) classes are currently only for pre-primary and grade one students, but if interest from parents is high this class format will continue. To support students social and emotional development, the Stamford boasts a full-time councillor and head of learning support. There is also a nurse who is very involved with families. Already this year, the nurse has engaged directly with the parent body offering information sessions that share guidelines for how much sleep young people require through to discussions with female students and their mums about changes they’ll go through. Stamford American School’s consistency in staff helps to ensure that, not only a closeknit team has already been established,
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Students working togther
but that continuity of the school’s DNA is transferred to the Hong Kong campus with ease and complete knowledge. It also paves the way for collaboration across the two schools and the entire Cognita network. “The teachers here, because they have ex-colleagues in Singapore, work closely with these colleagues. The bilingual program faculty shares resources and best practice between and staff from Stamford Singapore
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have already been to visit the Hong Kong campus,” says Dietz. For the school year 2017-2018, Stamford American School in Hong Kong has classes from Pre-primary (ages 5 and 6) to Grade 7. At time of going to press there was availability across the board with some classes expanding to meet demand and a further grade three class opening up. For the next academic year, the school will grow
Established: 2017 Number of students: 350 with capacity for 1,000 Class size: 24 Curriculum: Inquiry-based, American Education Reaches Out, Common Core Plus IB *Applying for candidacy in December 2017 Fees 2017/2018: $165,900-$182,100 per annum Non refundable capital levy: $30,000 Address: 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: 2500 8688
to have a Grade 8 class, and continue to grow year-to-year until a graduating class is reached. Interested parents can contact the school for the latest information on enrollments.
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Hong Kong creatures
Hoo’s that Owl
Fantastic owls and where to find them with Hong Kong Wildlife Photographer, Robert Ferguson
Pho taken to Hong in Kong
These beautiful birds can be found throughout the SAR, wherever there is suitable woodlands for them to perch and hunt. I saw one last month deep in some trees at the top of Tai Mo Shan It is a myth that owls can completely rotate their heads, rather the birds can actually turn their necks 135 degrees in either direction. Owls don’t have spherical eyeballs, they have “eye tubes” that go far back into their skulls. A group of owls is called a parliament. To see these birds locally head to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens in Tai Mo Shan Country Park, where they normally have some rescued individuals. More information at kfbg.org
For a daily blog on Hong Kong’s wildest animals and stunning photography visit wildcreatureshongkong.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/ wildcreatureshongkong/
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Photos and information courtesy of Wild Creatures Hong Kong.
Collared Scops Owls
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big day out
Day tripping in Cheung Chau Tara Smyth explores one of Hong Kongâ€™s most popular outlying islands
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big day out
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big day out
ead on for a truly, super-sized BIG day out! You absolutely can’t do everything in one day on this vibrant, buzzing, fascinating and colourful island and by the time you board the ferry to leave Cheung Chau you’ll be planning your trip back. Be it walking, shopping, lying on the beach, drinking coffee, visiting temples, sampling new cuisines, swimming, playing tennis, roller skating, running around a track, painting, picnicking, photographing, architecture or just taking the little ones to the playground, this island has something for everyone. Cheung Chau is a long dumbbell shaped island, made up of two headlands with a narrow strip in the middle, its name translates from Cantonese to mean “Long Island”. Along the narrow strip is where most of the bustling nature of Cheung Chau life takes place. As you disembark the ferry on the western side of the strip, you are immediately immersed into chaos. Drying fish, gambling grannies, locals on bicycles, handicraft stalls, dogs, fishermen, restaurant owners and tourists are all vying for space on this tiny piece of land. Do not be put off by this, embrace all things Hong Kong and soak it up! Ignore the McDonalds directly in front of you when you first arrive – there are a plethora of finer dining options on offer. With so much to do, it is very hard to portray in one article how your day should go.
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Tin Hau Temple at Tai Shek Hau
However, for virgins to this island, I suggest you do the following. After that, it is up to you, you are at the mercy of your own abilities, interests and the amount of time you have. On leaving the ferry terminal turn right, head South towards the end of the narrow strip. The path will continue along the waterfront (with the sea on your right) for a further 1.5km. Once you reach the end you should take the steps on your left, where you see the signpost for Cheung Po Tsai Cave. Continue up this attractive path, following the signs towards the cave the whole way. You will pass a gorgeous temple with
Ready to hike in Cheung Chau
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big day out
enviable views across the water. It is worth taking a moment here. Continue on until you reach Cheung Po Tsai cave. Actually we did not find the cave to be overly impressive in itself, but the short walk down to it, past the fantastic rock formations was worth the 50 metre detour. Back to the path and take the steps down to the “balancing rock”. The steps pass through some rocks and at first glance look impassable, but they are not. There is a sign telling you there is no access, across the bay, to the balancing rock, but if the tide is out and with a little bit of an adventurous spirit, you can actually cross over to the other side of the bay using the steel chains and some careful footing. This really is doable – do not be put off. If, however, you decide it is not for you, head back to the main path and continue that way. Presuming you have made the clamber over to the other side of the bay, pass the impressive balancing rock on your right and continue along the path until you reach Pak Tso Wan beach. Turn left here and continue for a short distance, you will reach the main ‘street’ once again – named Peak Road West. At this junction, turn right and you will pass a picturesque cemetery. After this, you need to continue along Peak Road West and eventually you will head back into the busy populated part of this headland. Try to stay ‘right’ and you will arrive at Afternoon Beach. Impossible for me to tell you how to do this, I seem to take a different route through the narrow little streets every time I do it. This area is reminiscent of being in Europe with steep, narrow alleyways, gated villas and interesting architecture reminding us that Hong Kong was once colonised. Take this
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The path to Balancing rock
Cheung Chau’s famous fish balls
opportunity to relax back with a beer or hire some windsurf at Afternoon Beach. That done, head over to the main beach, past the dominating Warwick Hotel, this beach provides a great opportunity to swim or sunbathe. If you don’t fancy either of those activities, head into the main throng of the central strip once again and just explore! Here you will find artisan coffee shops, varied eateries, quaint handicraft shops, shrines, temples and places of worship, as well as a couple of art jam establishments. This area is a feast for the eyes and you will be blown away by the variety of places of interest. Head to the northernmost part of the central strip and find the pièce de résistance, Yuk Hui (Pak Tai) temple. Take the
time to go inside and explore, the unique wall murals and exquisite doors are worth getting the camera out for. The temple staff are super friendly and allowed me to snap away. By now you’ll be in need of a break – time to hit the waterfront and choose a restaurant of your pleasing. Order your food, order a beer, and get the diary out. You’ll be itching to come back – did you notice, we haven’t even made a start on the northern headland?! Tara Smyth runs photography company Nitty Gritty Image. For details, visit facebook.com/NittyGrittyImages
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Paul Zimmerman and colleagues at Victoria Harbour
Water taxi revival Study brings new wave of hope for water taxi transport across Victoria Harbour
early nine in ten Hongkongers are on board with the idea of water taxis in Victoria Harbour, according to a recent survey backed by local groups and conducted by a team of US researchers. The study, sponsored by Designing Hong Kong and the Harbour Business Forum with pro-bono legal support secured via PILnet clearing house, was carried out by four engineering students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. According to their results, 89 percent of respondents said they were interested in taking water taxis across the harbour. Water taxis are already a familiar sight in cities such as New York, London and Vancouver. But long before any of these services began, Hong Kong had its very own homegrown water taxis: the sampans and wallah-wallah motorboats that were once a popular way to traverse Victoria Harbour. For close to a century after the Star Ferry company was founded in 1888, the familiar “wallah-wallah” whirl could be heard over the harbour in the darkness of night when regular services finished—all the way up until the Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972. The results of the survey are heartening for water taxi advocates but hardly surprisingly. In places like Aberdeen and parts of the outlying islands and New
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Territories, sampan and kaito ferry services have continued operating for decades, while in Victoria Harbour 12-seater launches are frequently chartered to shuttle crew between ship and shore. The demand for small boats providing on-call services has always been there in Hong Kong, and it’s about time it was welcomed into the twentyfirst century with an easy to find, and use, booking system for residents and visitors. Local officials first floated the idea of bringing back water taxis in November last year, to ferry islandside visitors to and from the West Kowloon Cultural District. The Tourism Commission is currently working with the Transport Department to gauge the marine industry’s interest in providing water taxi services in Victoria Harbour. The WPI researchers suggest using existing watercraft and landing facilities before introducing purpose-built vessels and upgrading harbourside infrastructure. In their phased implementation plan, water taxi services would begin with rebranding the sampans, launches and kaitos already familiar to us. Upgrading from bargained prices and physical hailing to published fares, a mobile booking application, and temporary pontoon piers. The financial success of converting the launch, kaito and walla-walla services to a water taxi system requires allowing co-charters (think carpooling) so that more than one group of passengers can jump on
board. Alternatively, the harbour is ‘zoned’ whereby kaito ferries are allowed to take passengers to any of the 50 landing steps scattered along the harbour, with the fee depending upon how many zones one crosses in their journey. Either way, I envision an Uber-like setup for water taxis, complete with dynamic pricing, mobile and online booking platforms, and refurbished public landing steps. With the development of our waterfronts in Central, Wanchai, North Point, Quarry Bay, Yau Tong, Cha Kwo Ling, Kai Tak, Hung Hom, Tsimshatsui, West Kowloon, Tsuen Wan and Tsing Yi, now is the time to be ambitious about better harbour transport. Developing a water taxi service that is popular and commercially viable will take more than laying the keel for another sightseeing cruise. What we need is the audacity to go beyond existing practices and technologies and try something new. As a great port city with an eye to the future and salt in its veins, Hong Kong should be more than equal to the task.
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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