Page 1


January 2020




The really useful magazine January 2020

2 CONTRIBUTORS Meet the team 4 PEOPLE Sai Kungers out and about 6 PLANNER

What’s happening in January


34 ARTS & CULTURE Your ultimate guide to Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

36 OUTDOOR Tara Smyth explores Cheung Chau 38 TRAVEL Gemma Shaw checks into the new InterContinental Maldivess

What’s going on In your backyard?

42 ZIM CITY High hopes for new district council 12 POLICE BLOTTER Inspector Matt Chu talks crime 43 SAI KUNG SECRETS The legend behind Hanging Bell Island 13 LOCAL Tara Smyth says goodbye to Scouts after 10 years 44 PETS Your pet questions answered. Plus 15 5 MINUTES WITH.. walkies Lindsay Varty, professional rugby player and author 47 IN THE GARDEN What to plant in January 16 MUST HAVES Keep warm with these cosy bedroom 48 VINES Stephen Vines reports on goings on accessories around town 20 COVER STORY Fitness classes for the whole family 25 BIG DAY OUT It’s showtime at AIA Carnival 26 HEALTH & BEAUTY New year, new hair 28 HOME & LIVING Pets Central’s 24 hour clinic 30 DINING Fine dining restaurants for Chinese New Year. Plus nibbles







editor’s letter


elcome to the new decade! If you’re anything like me, a new year is the perfect time for a fresh start (new year, new me and all that), so a new decade is even more motivating. We’ve dedicated this month’s issue to the most popular New Year’s resolution there is; fitness. While many resolutions tend to go out of the window mid-Jan, our guide to the best local fitness classes around town will have you running up the Maclehose at 5am until July (okay let’s not get too ahead of ourselves!) Get some much needed motivation on page 20. You might as well keep your decorations up for another month, Chinese New Year is just around the corner (January 25) with the arrival of the Year of the Rat. Check out page 34 for all you need to know about the holiday. And a new haircut is the perfect way to transition into the new decade (just be sure to do it before CNY to avoid bad luck) We’ve rounded up the best salons in and out of town on page 26. Let the celebrations commence and don’t forget your Lai See!


Managing editor Gemma Shaw, Editor Nicole Slater, Editorial assistant Nicole Cooley, Charmaine Ng,

Design Graphic Designer Alvin Cheng, Jeramy Lee, Vicky Lam,

Sales & Marketing

Director of Content Hilda Chan, Head of Digital Content Isamonia Chui, Partnership Manager Mathew Cheung, Elaine Li,


Management Trainee Edwina Chan,


Digital Editor Apple Lee,


Tom Hilditch,

Thanks to


Paul Zimmerman Denis Leung Lindsay Varty

Lusia Smyth Dr. Pauline Ela Hirth

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 | Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, L1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong

Eric Ho

Tara Smyth

A journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. Stephen is the former editor of Eastern Express, Southeast Asia correspondent for The Observer and Sai Kung Magazine’s back page columnist. He reveals his thoughts on the future of Sai Kung and more local happenings this month on page 48.

Previous Editor of Sai Kung Magazine and travel content creator at chopsticksontheloose. com. Eric ventured around Sai Kung this month to discover many hidden secrets. Read all about the legend behind Hanging Bell Island (Jin Island) in our new Sai Kung secrets section on page 43.

Local resident, founder of Nitty Gritty Images and Sai Kung Magazine’s long term contributor, Tara Smyth waved goodbye to the scouts this month after 10 years of dedicated service. She shares her highlights and more with us in this month’s local story on page 13.



Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay 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. Hong Kong Living Ltd 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 publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any way, part or format without written permission from the publisher.

Want to write for Sai Kung Magazine? Contact 2 | SAIKUNG.COM

Photo credit: Bamboo Yoga

Stephen Vines



credit: Ela Hirth

Snaps from Sai Kung


say cheese Snaps from Sai Kung

HKGTA Light on Sustainability Tree Lighting Ceremony

Southside Christmas Charity Lunch 2019

We’re on Facebook

Scan here to view the full photo album SAIKUNG.COM | 5


JAN 17-19

Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail Race One of the world’s most popular trail running events. Choose from a distance of 56km or 103km. 8am. From $900. Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung.


Get in on the action for the Hong Kong premiere of Disney’s The Lion King. Times vary. $399. AsiaWorld Expo, Lantau Island.

PIX Credit: Graham Uden

year descends on Lantau. 8.30am-3pm. Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Coach Park. dogathon.

Disney’s The Lion King Musical


AIA The Great European Carnival This year’s carnival brings with it games, great prizes, European street entertainers and thrilling rides. Central Harbourfront Event Space.

Place your bets! Sha Tin Race Course.


JAN 11

Woof woof! The biggest dog carnival of the

Race three of the HK 50 Series, covering

New Year’s Horse Racing

Hill’s X SPCA Dogathon 2020 6 SAIKUNG.COM

Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair Not just for kids! This fair is in its 46th edition and features the latest products from over 2,000 exhibitors. $100. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.



JAN 6- 9

HK 50 Series-Hong Kong West 50

happening in January distances of 6km, 10km, 25km and 54km. From 6.30am. $280. Shing Mun Reservoir Catchwater, Tsuen Wan.

Jan 1

New Year’s Day

JAN 12

Jan 25

Lunar New Year

Discovery Bay Chinese New Year Market

Jan 27

This popular outdoor market serves up homemade crafts, jewellery, clothing and food. 11am-6pm. Discovery Bay Plaza, Lantau.

The Third Day of Lunar New Year

Jan 28

The Fourth Day of Lunar New Year

Apr 4

Ching Ming Festival

Apr 10

Good Friday

Apr 11

The Day Following Good Friday

Apr 13

Easter Monday

Apr 30

Birthday of Buddha

JAN 19

May 1

Labour Day

Jun 25

Tuen Ng Festival

The Scottish singer songwriter comes to Hong Kong. 7.30pm. $490. MacPherson Stadium, 38 Nelson Street, Mong Kok.

Kickstart the new year with classes and workshops led by prominent figures in the yoga, fitness, meditation and nutrition industries. 12-5pm. $180 (early bird $99 until Jan 3). AIA Vitality Park, Central.

Jul 1

HKSAR Establishment Day

Oct 1

National Day

Oct 2

JAN 15 - FEB 23

JAN 19

The Day Following Mid-Autumn Festival

Nine fantastic shows include The Gruffalo and Mr Men and Little Miss. $195. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Gammon China Coast Marathon and Half Marathon

Oct 26

Chung Yeung Festival

Hong Kong’s oldest marathon and half marathon enters its 40th year. 8am. $400. Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung.

Dec 25

Christmas Day

Dec 26

The First Weekday After Christmas Day

JAN 12

Clockenflap Presents: Lewis Capaldi

Hong Kong KidsFest

Public holiday dates for 2020

New Year Urban Retreat

JAN 25

Chinese New Year Kung Hei Fat Choi!

JAN 26

Chinese New Year Fireworks Boom! 8pm. Victoria Harbour.

JAN 27

Chinese New Year Race Day Strike it lucky at Sha Tin Racecourse! 11am. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Sha Tin Racecourse Stand, Sha Tin.




Got an event? We can publish the details. Email

FEB 8-9

FEB 14-16

Performed by the Hong Kong Ballet. From $200. Times vary. The Box, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District.

This prestigious equestrian event debuts the Asian Arabian Horse Show for the first time. And a hobby horse competition for kids! Times vary. From $230. AsiaWorldExpo, Lantau.

Sleeping Beauty

Longines Masters of Hong Kong

Credit: Dancers (from left): Dong Ruixue, Henry Seldon | Creative: Design Army | Photographer: Dean Alexander | Courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet

FEB 13-MAR 14

MAR 18

A month-long performing arts festival. Times, prices and locations vary.

Standing is the only way to go. From $898. Hall 10, AsiaWorld-Expo, Chek Lap Kok.

Hong Kong Arts Festival


Marilyn Manson Live in Hong Kong

APR 2-26

Cirque du Soleil The famous Canadian circus returns to Hong Kong with Amaluna. Times vary. From $450. Big Top, Central Harbourfront Event Space, Central.



Dogtastic 2020 calendar by Sai Kung Stray Friends Foundation Local sisters, Bertina and Cherish Chan are the creative minds behind this year’s Sunflowers for Seniors calendar. The calendar features some of Sai Kung Stray Friends senior residents including Big Boy, Penny and Margo, who was rescued during the

aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut back in 2018. The calendars retail for $100 and are available at Butcher King, 24 Yi Chun Street. All proceeds will go to support the dogs at the shelter who are awaiting forever homes.

Power hike Electricity bills in Hong Kong are set to rise from January 1. Customers of CLP Power, serving Kowloon, the New Territories and Lantau, can expect tariffs to increase by up to 2.5 percent, whilst customers of HK Electric, supplying Hong Kong Island and Lamma, will see tariffs increase by up to 5.2 percent. These increases are the result of the two firms reducing their reliance on coal and moving to cleaner fuel sources in order to meet Hong Kong’s emission targets this year. However, the announcement of subsidies offered by the government should offset the increases, so that consumers should not be left feeling out of pocket.


in your backyard

Hong Kong Museum of Art reopens square metres and five new galleries were added, including a nine-metre high gallery for larger artworks. Four different entrances to the reception lobby are now open to visitors with a range of new dining outlets looking out over the harbour. 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

Photo credit: Leisure and Cultural Services Department

Late last year, Hong Kong Museum of Art (HKMoA) in Tsim Sha Tsui reopened after a major renovation. Established in 1962, HKMoA was originally housed in City Hall and featured art from ancient to contemporary. The museum moved to Tsim Sha Tsui in 1991 and closed in August 2015 for renovation and expansion. Exhibition space was increased to 10,000

Sónar gets Stormzy Spanish electronic musical festival Sónar will return to Hong Kong for their fourth edition on March 29 with none other than British grime star Stormzy. He last performed in Hong Kong at Clockenflap 2017 when he supported The Prodigy. His latest appearance is part of a

world tour to promote the December release of his new album Heavy is the Head. Stormzy’s visit to Asia will also take in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul. Tickets from $680. The Grand Hall, Building 12W, Hong Kong Science & Technology Park.

HKFC 10s rugby tournament cancelled Last month, the Hong Kong Football Club announced that the 2020 HKFC 10s Rugby Tournament, scheduled for April 1-2, will no longer go ahead. The club cited, “owing to the ongoing situation in Hong Kong, the tournament has, for the first time, had difficulty in attracting and securing firm commitments from enough overseas teams of sufficient quality”. The club goes on to say that in making the decision to cancel what would have been a diminished event in 2020, they instead want to focus on making the 2021 edition even better.

Sai Kung Police hand out free security devices To combat a recent surge in burglaries across the town, Sai Kung Police have announced that they will hand out free window security alarm devices to local residents. If you’d like one, stop by Sai Kung Police Station at 1 Po Tung Road.


on patrol

Inspector Matt Chu reports on recent cases in Sai Kung Stranger danger On November 27, a 57-year-old female became Facebook friends with an unknown male. The conversation moved to Whatsapp and on December 1, the man requested to send the woman a handbag. The woman transferred $28,500 to the man, who claimed it was to cover tax. One week later the man asked her for an additional $177,000 which made her suspicious and she contacted the police. The case is still under investigation.

Missing baggy

Sai Kung Post Office

Postbox revenge

and received injuries to both legs. After calling the police he was taken to Tseung Kwan O Hospital for treatment.

On November 21, a 13-year-old boy claimed to have dropped his phone inside Sai Kung Post Office postbox. He kicked the box multiple times before leaving. Later that day the boy’s father accompanied him to the police station. The case is still under investigation.

One too many

The two-second rule

A couple in Pak Kong Village got into a dispute over drinking. The wife then called the police who arrived and calmed the situation. No charges were pressed.

Two private cars collided on Hiram’s Highways at noon on December 8. The first car, driven by a 49-year-old female, broke to let another vehicle out. A second private car, driven by a 29-year-old male, collided into the back of the first car. Both drivers were taken to Prince of Wales Hospital in a stable condition.

Watch your windows On December 1, a break-in was reported at Pak Kong village. A 49-year-old female was alone sleeping in her second floor apartment, she had left a window in the guest room open. She awoke at 7.45am to discover $8,000 and $2,700 RMB in cash missing, along with two mobile phones, two rings and three bracelets. The case is under investigation.

Please hold the handle bars A 33-year-old male was cycling along Nam Wai at 6am on December 10. He fell off his bike


Driving me mad On the evening of November 28, a taxi driver and his passenger got into a dispute over money. The passenger, a 22-year-old male, got into the taxi at Tuen Mun and was taken to Sai Kung Pier, where he discovered he had no money. The passenger called a friend to meet him, but when the friend didn’t show up, the driver called the police. Eventually, the driver took the male back to Tuen Mun where his family paid for the taxi both ways.

On the afternoon of December 8, a 13-yearold-boy discovered a blue bag in a bush near Sha Kok Mei. The boy informed a 60-year-old male, who brought the bag to the police station where police found what they suspected to be cannabis inside. The case is still under investigation.

Back at it again On November 20, a member of staff from the Wong Siu Sang Leadership Training Centre, reported that two incense trees had been cut down overnight. CCTV footage captured one person cutting the trees. The police are still looking into the case.

Beware of the dog On the morning of December 9, a female reported a dispute with her neighbour at The Mediterranean. The dispute was over dog walking, with the woman claiming she was scared of the dog. No further action was taken.

Mind the stairs A 57-year-old male was out hiking alone when he fell down the stairs at Long Ke Beach. The man was escorted by the government flying service to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae and admitted for further treatment.

For more information, contact Sai Kung Police Station, 1 Po Tung Road, Sai Kung, 3661 1630


The Troop

Why is it so important for children to join a club like Scouts? Unlike joining a rugby team, art class or violin lessons, Scouts offers a wide-ranging variety of activities. It embraces outdoor skills, physical pursuits, endurance, confidence, kindness, and an all-important service to the community. There’s something for everyone! You’re leaving after 10 years! How has the local community helped you through this milestone? We often ask members of the community to share their expertise - afterall, I don’t know everything!

Tara Smyth and Scout Leaders

Scouting out of 2020 After 10 years of service, Tara Smyth retires as 299th EK Scout Troop Leader


um, adventurer and passionate hiker Tara Smyth arrived in Hong Kong on a one-way ticket in 1994. She met her husband in Lan Kwai Fong, had two daughters and moved to Sai Kung. Of the many things she has contributed to our society over the years include 10 years of dedicated service to the Scouts. Last month Tara retired as 299th EK Scout Troop Leader. What inspired you to begin the 299th EK Scout Troop? I joined the Sai Kung Beaver Scouts in 2009 with my (then) six-year-old daughter, and agreed to “help out a bit here and there”. Before I knew it, I was donning the uniform and making the promise sign. Once both my daughters moved through the Beavers and Cubs, there was no Scout Troop available in the town, so myself and a few other Cub Leaders decided it was time to change that. That September we raised the Scout flag and recruited 16 brand new 11 and 12-year-olds into our Troop.

What’s your most memorable scouting expedition and why? The 299th Scouts have undertaken expeditions to the Lake District, Nepal, the Dolomites as well as taking part in the Maclehose 100km Camp. We’ve hiked 88km across the Italian Alps with each member carrying their own kit over a period of eight days, it was an amazing feat and they should be extremely proud.

Why are you leaving the Scouts and what’s in store in 2020? After 10 years with the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, I feel ready to move on to pastures new. My daughters are now both at school in the UK and I am travelling a lot more for their holidays. I’m planning to spend the extra time growing my business, Nitty Gritty Images, so you’ll most likely see me with my camera rather than my map and compass! Who will be taking over the 299th EK Scout Troop? ASL Gillian Prior will be taking over as the new Scout Leader. We’ve worked closely together for the past eight years. Gill will be flanked by the other committed leaders that make up our wonderful leadership team. Got a local story you’d like to share? Email us at

Want to join? The 299th EK Scout Troop meet on Wednesday evenings at Pak Sha Wan from 6-8pm and participate in weekend activities throughout the year. They are currently recruiting new Scouts and are open to boys and girls aged 11 to 15 years old. Visit Meanwhile, to contact Tara regarding her photography work visit Tara and her daughters



five minutes with My favourite places to: Eat: Po Toi O Chuen seafood restaurant. My mum always takes me there and we choose seafood straight from the tanks. The waiters have watched me grow up from age nine! Shop: Shopping for fish, meat, fruit and vegetables is the most fun at Hang Hau wet market! Hike: High Junk Peak. I’ve seen snakes and wild boars there and I can even see my house from the peak. I got engaged right at the top!

The ‘survivors’ are the traditional craftsmen and women of Hong Kong who have persisted despite the introduction of modern technology and rising rents. Most Sai Kungers will remember the beloved Tin Man. He is exactly the kind of character who I scouted out. Sadly he passed away just a few days before our interview. I wrote Sunset Survivors whilst still training full time as a professional rugby player for the Hong Kong team.

Five minutes with

Lindsay Varty

We usually finished training at about 4pm and most of the shops I was going to would close by 6pm. So I had a short window of time to rush there to get the interviews. It was hectic but enjoyable! I’m currently working on a few new projects including a Sunset Survivors for young children, so keep your eyes peeled!

Nicole Slater speaks to professional rugby player and author of Sunset Survivors I’ve lived in Hong Kong since I was just 20 days old, I love everything about it: from the filthy floors of the wet market, to the smell of roasted chestnuts during winter. I moved to Po Toi O Chuen when I was nine. I went from being a city kid in an apartment to living in the countryside. I immediately fell in love with the beaches, hills and kayaking! Growing up, my parents wanted my brother and I to experience ‘the real Hong Kong. We would eat congee in Sham

Shui Po, shop at wet markets and go squid fishing on junk boats. Many Hong Kong traditions that I loved started to disappear and change. I decided to document them before they were gone forever. My book Sunset Survivors is a collection of interviews, facts and photographs which focus on Hong Kong’s fading traditional industries and the people that continue to run them.

Hiking on High Junk Peak

Pick up a copy of Lindsay’s book Sunset Survivors at Kidnapped. 7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung. Facebook: Kidnapped Book Shop


must haves this month Rounded Vintage Hanging Mirror $299 from Marks and Spencer

Nelson Style Sunburst Clock, Walnut $1,180 from Decor8

Snug as a bug in a rug Bedroom furniture and accessories to keep you cozy this winter. By Nicole Slater

Marble Look Octagonal Photo Frame $179 from Marks and Spencer

Pomegranate Noir Deluxe Candle $560 from Jo Malone


LC4 Chaise Lounge $3,290 from Decor8

snuggle up

Black Edition Kensu Cushion, Viridian $2,600 from Lane Crawford

Carling Luxury Table Light with Marble Base $2,290 from Decor8

Watercolour Floral Print Duvet Cover $599 from Zara Home

White Faux Fur Rug $799 from Zara Home


cover story


all aboard


cover story


Kick start your New Year’s resolutions with these fitness classes and clubs for the whole family. By Nicole Slater 20 | SAIKUNG.COM

allwork aboard it

Row your boat at Blue Sky

Blue Sky Dragon-boat team If you’re looking to get fit Hong Kong style, dragon boat racing might just be for you. Blue Sky offers a range of dragon boat programmes including the Dragon Boat Elite Programme, where racers will compete in up to 10 professional races per year. Training is held on Monday and Thursday evenings, 7.30pm-9pm, Membership fee: $800.

Sai Kung Stingrays With iconic pink uniforms, The Sai Kung Stingrays are a staple sports team in the local community. The club offers weekly rugby training for boys and girls aged four to 19 as well as netball training to girls aged seven to 14. Sign up at

Sai Kung Bulldogs Football Club Dedicated to training and producing top football players while also helping them become better human beings, the Sai Kung Bulldogs takes a holistic approach to the game. The local club offers a range of lessons from Wednesday to Sunday for boys and girls, aged two to 17. $600 per month. Pak Kong and Wai Man Soccer Pitch.


Outdoor Fitness

Founded by Dayle Haigh-Smith in 2012, Outdoor Fitness takes advantage of Sai Kung natural surroundings with their hourlong fitness sessions. Bootcamp classes are Sai Kung Stingrays racing ahead

Fit and fabulous team at Outdoor Fitness


Casual Football Network Started by a football enthusiast in 2009, the Casual Football Network is for adult amateur soccer players looking for a casual game. The network organises at least seven games per week on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. Sign up online on a first-come, first-served basis, note there is a strict no-show policy.


cover story


allwork aboard it

Sai Kung Bulldogs ready for the match

held every Tuesday and Thursday morning and evening so residents can try a range of workouts from Aquafit to TRX. $120 per class, $1,000 for 10. Wai Man Soccer Pitch, Sai Kung.

Basecamp Using a variety of indoor and outdoor training programmes, Basecamp tailors each workout to suit your health and fitness needs. Their outdoor group training sessions take place in Lion’s Nature Park and Sai Kung Stadium and feature a combination of running, agility and strength exercises using bands, benches and circuits. $140 per session, $650 for five.

Dragon Fitness Get a fitness overhaul at Sai Kung’s only holistic fitness studio. Founder and coach Ally van de Pol, focuses on functional strength and conditioning training plus holistic nutrition and health, encouraging an all-round healthy lifestyle. The studio offers personal and group training, workshops and nutrition coaching. Dragon’s Lodge, 1A Wong Chuk Yeung, Sai Kung.

The Yoga House An independent studio in Po Lo Che run by yoga instructor Emma Linnitt. With thirteen classes a week including ‘Tween’ classes, everyone can enjoy a calm and relaxing session. Held every Monday at 5pm. Po Lo Che, Sai Kung.

Bamboo Yoga Founded by Polish native Aleksandra Milewicz, Bamboo Yoga offers beginner’s level, private and corporate classes, as well as a very popular beach aerial yoga workshop. Check their website for upcoming sessions and classes. Central.

Dance Russian Ballet school Russian Ballet School is the only ballet

school in Hong Kong to offer the Vaganova Syllabus, a teaching style devised by the Russian dancer and pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova. The school offers beginner classes for children aged three to 10, pre professional classes for children aged seven and up, and adult classes. G/F, 787 Tan Cheung, Sai Kung.

Zumba at The Studio This Latin-inspired cardio workout, combines fitness and fun together with catchy music and energetic choreography, making your workout less work and more play. The Studio currently runs classes on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Walk-ins $160. 1/F, 28 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung. new.

Tina’s Dance Studio Offering a relaxed and fun environment for children to learn the art of ballet, Tina’s Dance Studio is a firm-favourite in the town. Classes are available Monday-Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. 15 Man Nin Street. 2/F, Sai Kung. Facebook: Tina’s Dance Studio Sai Kung

Yoga Yoga at The Studio Located in the heart of Sai Kung town centre, The Studio offers a range of yoga classes and styles including flow, hatha, prenatal and even aerial yoga. Professional instructors, Dawn Mak and Tamika Savoury focus on improving students, posture, breathing and flexibility. 1/F, 28 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung.

Yoga at The Pier The serene roof terrace at The Pier Hotel provides the perfect location for hosting yoga and meditation classes. Enquire at the hotel to book the space. The Pier Hotel, 9 Pak Sha Wan Street, Sai Kung. Rooftop yoga at The Pier


big day out


big day out

Roll up, roll up, it’s showtime

Fairground fun on the Wave Swinger

AIA Carnival lights up the harbourfront. Nicole Slater reports


rum roll please… The AIA Carnival has returned to Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront Event Space for the sixth year running. The Carnival takes place annually between December and February and features amusement rides, carnival skill games, performances on a community stage and The Great Circus of Europe. While the organisers note that 2019 has been a challenging year for Hong Kong, they have been committed throughout the past few months to deliver an event that Hong Kong people from all walks of life can experience and enjoy. For general admission there is a “freeze” on last year’s entry prices, here are some of the highlights.

The Great Circus of Europe Located in the iconic gigantic tent, The Great Circus of Europe from the UK will be

led by Ringmaster Ryan and feature clowns, a swinging trapeze and motorbikes in the Globe of Death. Tickets from $200 and family packages from $700.

Fairground rides New rides include a Ghost Train that cruises through spooky scenes. While the ever popular Starflyer which provides bird’s eye views of the Central Harbourfront will remain a firm fixture. For something more serene, the River Rapids allow a family of four to ride together.

Game Booths Throw a hoop and win a prize! Succeed at classic game booths such as the Can Smash and Ring Toss to win plush cuddly toys such as The Snowman and characters from Toy Story 4.

Local element While the carnival has a European influence,

unique Hong Kong touches remind us to celebrate our home. Local food options include HK Street Snacks while the event is sponsored by local companies including Salvage Grooming, Asia Miles and Renaissance Hotel.

Environmental considerations As a socially responsible company, the organiser The Great European Carnival has introduced new environmentally-friendly initiatives throughout the carnival and reduced their use of single-use plastics. A toy donation station has also been set up to help minimise wastage. The Great European Carnival runs until February 16. Tickets are $130 including entry and 10 tokens, some online discounts apply. Entry only costs $40. Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central. tgec. asia/tickets


Photo credit:

health & wellness

Top of the chops!

KEEP IT LOCAL Tala’s Hair and Beauty Centre

Out with the old, in with the new. Gemma Shaw suggests the best salons for a cut and colour this January

Everyone’s favourite local salon offers every treatment under the sun, from colouring to perms. The salon, which is named after owner Mojdeh Kazemi’s daughter, is well known for its welcoming hospitality and professionalism. With modern decor, a rooftop area and complimentary glass of wine or drink with every consultation, it’s no surprise that this salon has won a Sai Kung’s Readers Choice Award eight years running!

Aphrodite Hair and Makeup Since opening just over a year ago, Aphrodite Hair and Makeup has made quite a name for itself with quality products and a relaxing atmosphere. Head Stylist, Jacquiline Hamilton worked in various local salons and client’s homes before finally opening her own salon in September 2018. She offers a range of hair treatments including highlights, cut and blow-dries and fabulous updos.

La Palma


Tala’s team

With seven salons across Hong Kong from Tsung Kwan O to Ma On Shan, La Palma has a

party-ready fresh locks dedicated team of experienced hairdressers and stylists. Their customer-centric approach results in stylish and sophisticated cuts every time.


lights - highlights which are so fine they blend perfectly with natural hair colour and minimise the appearance of regrowth meaning more time in between salon visits. “I want my clients to leave with a hairstyle that works for their lifestyle and looks good in months to come,” says Felix. What’s more, the salon floor is made entirely of silver glitter and Felix makes a killer martini - is there anything this man can’t do?

Paul Gerrard Paul Gerrard and his international team are a firm favourite among the expat community. The salon offers a range of high-quality hair treatments including semi and permanent colouring, straightening and conditioning. Decor is modern and sleek and the coffee (or wine, depending on the time of day) keeps on flowing.


Felix Beck

Blonde Boudoir It’s no secret that quality highlights are hard to find in Asia. Enter Felix Beck, Creative Director of Blonde Boudoir, a master stylist and colourist with 20 years experience. Felix is popular for a relatively new technique called air

Located within the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, this luxury salon boasts huge interiors which include a boutique, a barbershop, a large ladies’ salon, nail spa and even private styling rooms! Order champagne or lunch from the hotel menu and have it delivered to you in the salon. The international team at BRUNEBLONDE has recently been joined by Creative Director Alistair Rae, who has styled the hair of celebrities including Drew Barrymore, as well as covers for Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.

Alistair Rae

winning hairdressers and product brand. Started by two brothers, Toni and Guy in 1963, the salon has since become a wellknown face within the fashion industry and the official hair care sponsor of London Fashion Week since 2013. The brand has over 420 salons worldwide including two in Hong Kong.

Toni&Guy World-renowned Toni&Guy is an award

W52 Hair • Nails

Jacquline Hamilton

Located on Wyndham Street in Central, W52 Hair & Nails offers a luxurious retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. In a sophisticated and well-lit space, the friendly staff and professional stylists are ready to pamper you and turn your beauty dreams into reality. Director Gary Ryan has assembled a team that is the definition of cosmopolitan, with over 100 years of combined experience between them. If you hadn’t guessed it from the name, W52 also do fabulous nails, go for a deep red, just in time for the CNY celebrations!


cover&story home living

24 Hours at Pets Central Charmaine Ng takes a tour of the 24-hour North Point clinic


alifornia-based Pets Central Group is known for its hospitals and clinics around the city that provide general and specialist professional veterinary services. If you have a pet, chances are you’ve met their dedicated team of veterinary professionals. Pets Central markets itself as a one-stop shop, providing care for animals across Hong Kong, from Sai Kung to Mong Kok. Recently, they opened up their first 24-hour clinic in North Point and launched an online vet-to-vet platform in order to bring the global veterinarian network to Hong Kong residents.


Good morning! The veterinary technicians do a quick once-over of the dog and cat wards. At the same time, the first pet owner comes bustling in carrying her chihuahua. “Attacked by a boar, poor thing!” The owner exclaims in tears. Dr Pauline Taylor whisks the pup into the Treatment Area to examine her. Throughout the morning, clients stream in and out of the clinic for both regular check-ups and emergency appointments.

Orthapaedic surgery on a kitten

paws for thought Most of the animals drift off to dreamland. The clinic quietens down, except for the few staff and vets on rotation, who take turns to inspect the pets at regular intervals. First the dog ward, then the cat ward, but shhh…

Lunch time!

worldwide can share resources to provide the best care for animals. Dr Reanne Kwok logs on to TeleVets and links up with Dr Dan Ohad, a Board Certified Diplomate of both the American and European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine based in Tel Aviv. They discuss a dog cardiology case. A pet owner comes in with a Pomeranian in her arms. “She seems to have hurt her legs!” The owner cries. Dr Kurt Verkest takes the pup in and examines her. After a check-up, he deems the pup stable and sends her and her owner home with medication. Clients continue to run in and out of the clinic all afternoon.

Lunchtime! The veterinary professionals prepare delicious meals for the dogs and cats boarding in Pets Central. Each animal follows a specific diet depending on their medical needs. Yum yum! It’s time for a consultation on the Vets Central platform! Pets Central has recently launched a new vet-to-vet system where veterinarians

The phone rings again. “My sweet Momo has swallowed something!” Within minutes, a pet owner is knocking on the doors of the clinic. She is carrying a domestic shorthair. Dr Zadil takes the kitten into the Treatment Area for an examination followed by the appropriate care and medication. The next pet owner who comes in skips calling entirely. Her ragdoll cat is vomiting excessively. Dr Zadil promptly takes the feline into the Treatment Area to care for her. Thankfully, the case is not complicated and is settled quickly. The rest of the night remains quiet until breakfast time, when the whole cycle begins again. You can find the 24-hour Pets Central hospital and clinic at G/F, 66 Java Road & 1/F, Yan Wo Building, 70 Java Road, North Point. For more information, visit

The team at Pets Central North Point

The first surgery of the day. Dr Jossie Yang and her team perform orthopaedic surgery on a little kitten in the Clean Surgery Room. Everything goes smoothly.

It’s completely quiet… until suddenly, the phone rings. Pets Central is the only 24hour clinic in the area and receives a lot of enquiries after regular working hours. Dr Sinet Zadil picks up and has the client – who lives nearby in Causeway Bay – bring in her Maltese. After a quick check-up, the doctor confirms that the pup is in stable condition.

Resident poodle, Bunny

Dr Zadil and Bunny

A new work shift begins and the fresh team of veterinary technicians do a quick cleanup of the Treatment Area, the Solution Area, the Clean Surgery Room and the X-Ray and Imaging Room. Meanwhile, pet owners continue to come in for consultations until nine o’clock. Dinner time! Once again, the veterinary professionals prepare meals for the dogs and cats boarding overnight according to their medical needs.


Foods of fortune

Rik Glauert suggests the best Chinese fine dining restaurants to celebrate the Year of the Rat

Hutong Jump into the world of flavour-packed northern Chinese cuisine at Hutong, a restaurant with the hustle and bustle of a Beijing alleyway but with world-class dishes and stunning views over Victoria Harbour. Once you’ve got used to the traditional archways, dividers, lanterns and bird cages, you’ll find a menu full of northern classics such as soft shell crab with Sichuan peppercorns and, of course, roast duck. 28/F, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

Duddell’s Located in the centre of Central, Duddell’s serves up luxe versions of dim sum classics in a bright and airy restaurant replete with stunning verandah. What’s more, the restaurant functions beautifully as an art space and bar and regularly holds exhibitions, showcases, and soirees. On the menu, ora pan-fried scallops with ginger-scallion egg whites and black truffle and honey-glazed barbecued Iberico pork are must-try classics. In our opinion, the weekend salon brunch with freeflow Veuve Clicquot and espresso martinis is the best way to sample this fine dining Chinese restaurant. 3/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central.


Photo credit:


summer spice chopsticks ready Cuisine Cuisine

The Chairman

With locations both at IFC and The Mira hotel, Cuisine Cuisine attracts the city’s glitterati and well-informed tourists with its menu centered on modern Chinese seafood dishes with a twist. Highlights include sautéed crystal king prawn served oyster sauce and shrimp paste and braised abalone served on fresh mushroom. Shop 3101, IFC, 8 Finance Street, Central.

Food takes centre-stage at this small and relatively unassuming eatery that has been routinely serving up high-end and innovative Cantonese cuisine for years. Popular dishes such as steamed fresh flower crab with aged shaoxing wine and braised spare ribs with preserved plums in caramelised black bean sauce keep the restaurant packed every single night. 18 Kau U Fong, Central.

Lung King Heen Four Season’s Lung King Heen has been serving up exceptional dim sum and other Cantonese classics for nearly 20 years. Under the helm of legendary chef Chan Yan Tak, who came out of retirement to open the restaurant, Lung King Heen became the first Chinese restaurant in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars and retained them for 11 consecutive years. Top dishes are the barbecued pork bun with pine nuts and the suckling pig. Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central.

Ming Court This is the place to indulge in fine Cantonese cuisine in lavish surroundings including Ming Dynasty bronzes and contemporary art. Among the menu highlights are drunken sea prawns in shaoxing wine and crispy chicken. The restaurant also prides itself on its cellar of nearly 400 different wines from over 100 regions and a team of sommeliers who have expectedly paired the perfect glass to match each dish. Cordis Hotel, Shanghai Street, Mong Kok.

Xin Rong Ji This Shanghai import specialises in Shanghainese, or Taizhou, dishes that highlight the natural flavours of carefully-sourced ingredients seasoned sparingly with aromatics. Seafood takes centre stage on the menu and the Michelin guide recommends the wild-caught yellow croaker from the East China Sea. 1/F & G/F, China Overseas Building, 138 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai.

T’ang Court

Chef Chan Yan Tak of Lung King Heen

Mott 32 Tucked beneath Standard Chartered in Central and taking inspiration from the bank’s vaults, Mott 32 is a treasure trove of lavish Chinese dishes with opulent interiors by Joyce Wang to match. The cavernous restaurant serves up some of the city’s best xiao long bao, har gao and siu mai, all with modern, creative twists. Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central.

Located in the Langham Hotel, T’ang Court has held its three Michelin stars for the last four years. The menu lives up to the opulent surroundings of plush ruby red carpets, crisp white table clothes and expensive Chinese art. Highlights include baked stuffed crab and Japanese Wagyu beef stir-fried with spring onion and wasabi. 1/F & 2/F, The Langham, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui,

Fook Lam Moon Originally opened in 1972, Fook Lam Moon has a reputation as the “tycoon’s canteen”. The decor of brown and gold may be simple, but the steaming plates of Cantonese classics from abalone and fish maw, to whole roast suckling pig and crispy chicken have attracted the city’s highest flyers for decades. 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai.


dining nibbles Welcome, Joe-San The owners of popular waterfront bar and restaurant Momentai are expanding their empire with the opening of a second location right next door. Nikolai Smirnoff, Courtney Horwood and Michael Lam celebrated the soft opening of their new 2,000 square foot restaurant, Joe-San in mid-December with plans to fully launch their new concept this month. Nikolai describes the new restaurant as an “early open cafe, sandwich deli and beer shop.” Kiosk 2 Waterfront, Wai Man Road, Sai Kung.

Goodbye Cé La Vi Lan Kwai Fong’s popular rooftop bar and Japanese restaurant Cé La Vi has sadly closed its doors after calling California Tower home since 2015. Iconic Locations Limited, the company behind Cé La Vi, comments in an official statement that it is currently exploring other locations in the city to bring

back the brand. The luxurious bar impressed guests until the very end, departing with a bang at its final New Year’s Eve party. Those who still want a taste of Cé La Vi’s unbeatable Japanese cuisine can head over to the recently opened venue in Tokyo and in January 2020, Dubai.

2020 Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong The 2020 Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau was unveiled at City of Dreams in Macau on December 17. The 12th edition of the guide features over 90 restaurants in the region and this year’s list sees plenty of newcomers as well as a few notable omissions. In total, there are two new three-star restaurants, three new two-star restaurants, and 10 new one-star restaurants. The newly crowned one-star restaurants include powerhouses such as Aaharn, opened by David Thompson

in Tai Kwun; both Rùn and L’Envol in St Regis Hong Kong; and our very own editor’s pick for best new restaurant at the Hong Kong Dining Awards 2020, Roganic. Arbor, Wing Lei and Sichuan Moon were awarded two stars while the three-star list remains largely unchanged with Caprice, Jade Dragon, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Lung King Heen, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Robuchon Au Dome, T’ang Court and The Eight retaining their titles. For more visit

New year, new Fortnum’s

Quinoa on you

Luxury British retailer and restaurant Fortnum & Mason opened their doors at K11 MUSEA in late November. Named 181, in honour of their address in Piccadilly London, the dining room and bar overlook stunning views of Hong Kong Island. Lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and snacks are served, with advance reservations advised. Fortnum’s traditional afternoon tea is priced at $588 and includes rare teas, scones and finger sandwiches, accompanied by a live pianist. Reserve online at

Beef & Liberty have introduced a healthy alternative burger for the new year. The Quinoa, is a 100 percent plant-based burger consisting of a house-made vegetable patty (quinoa, onion and jalapeño), topped with vegan cheddar cheese, served in a toasted vegan bun. The burger will be available from January 4 to February 23, and can be added as part of the Beef & Liberty lunch set for $149. 3/F California Tower 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central.


Super afternoon tea W Hong Kong have launched a new healthy afternoon tea set. The ‘Fuel Your Body and Mind’ afternoon set will be on offer at WOOBAR from now until March 31. The healthy twist on a traditional afternoon tea includes superfood alternatives such as crushed avocado with shrimp in shiso ponzu and beetroot hummus with pomegranate kernel and grissini. End on a sweet note with refreshing fruity flavours such as coconut and fresh raspberry chia seed pudding and blueberry earl grey and lemon poppy seed cake. $488 for two.


artsdining & culture

Ring in the Year of the Rat Nicole Slater suggest 10 ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year like a local


unar New Year festivities are among the most important of all the Chinese holidays, family dinners and celebrations are common, and if you’re lucky you’ll receive some cash too!

3 4

Go veggie

Legend has it that going vegetarian for the first day of the Lunar New Year (January 25) enhances longevity and helps purify and cleanse the body. Visit one of the city’s many vegetarian restaurants or create your own homemade vegetarian feast.

Chinese New Year Carnival


Clean up

Homes are thoroughly cleaned in the run up to the festivities, as it is considered bad luck to clean your home during the week of Lunar New Year. Sweep dust into the middle of the room and out the door to symbolise the sweeping away of bad luck. Going one step further, some homeowners paint door frames and windows in order to encourage good luck to enter.


Visit a flower market

Brighten up your home with a bunch of flowers or a Mandarin tree - these are believed to bring good luck around this time. While unfortunately the famous Victoria Park Market is cancelled this year, there are still plenty of places to stock up on festive flowers, including Prince Edward Flower Market. Flower Market Road, Mong Kok.


While the beloved Lunar New Year Parade has been cancelled this year, a four-day carnival will take its place on the first day of the Lunar New Year. The carnival will be held from January 25 to 28 and will feature international acts, food stalls and games. The venue is yet to be confirmed. For the most up to date information, visit


Watch the fireworks

Celebrate Lunar New Year with a bang. Fireworks and firecrackers are believed to scare away evil spirits, so expect a spectacular display. Grab a spot along the harbourfront or book a rooftop dinner, some restaurants with great views include Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, Grissini at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and Felix at The Peninsula. The display takes place on The Second Day of

Lunar New Year (January 26). 8pm. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade.


Take part in a Lion Dance

Lion and dragon dances are performed just about everywhere during the Lunar New Year. Pop down to your local town centre where you’ll find performers dressed as lions and dragons parading around the town while blessing local businesses.


Make it rain with Lai See

‘Lai see’ is the traditional name for the lucky red envelopes given by married people to their single relatives, colleagues and those in the service industry during the 15 days preceding Lunar New Year (January 25-February 8). The envelopes should contain crisp banknotes and the amount is symbolic, do not give any amount that contains the number four as this number is associated with ‘death’ in Chinese culture.


Make a wish at the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees

A visit to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees during Lunar New Year is thought to bring good luck. Traditionally joss paper was tied to an orange and thrown into the tree in an

chinese new year How much to give?

$20 for an acquaintance you see regularly but don’t know well, such as a doorman. $50 for someone close to you such as friends’ children, or your hairdresser. $100 as a generous gift to someone you care about. This is generally the minimum a bosses give to employees. $500+ is not unheard of, but it is usually given with a good motive such as birthdays or weddings around this time.

attempt to secure it around a high branch to entice good luck. Free admission. Take bus 64K or 64P from Tai Po Market station and get off at Fang Ma Po.


Get lucky at Hong Kong Chinese New Year Race Day

On The Third Day of Lunar New Year, head to Sha Tin Racecourse for a spot of betting on the horses. Over 100,000 racing fans will gather to place bets and celebrate. Hong Kong Jockey Club will put on a host of traditional and colourful festivities to accompany the racing. From 11am. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Sha Tin Racecourse Stand, Sha Tin.


Fight off bad luck at Man Mo Temple

It’s not all fireworks and feats; for those born during the Year of the Rat, Horse, Rooster, Rabbit or Goat, bad luck may be on the cards in 2020. In order to ward off the negative vibes, pay a visit to Man Mo Temple on The Third Day of the Lunar New Year (January 27). It is customary to burn incense, candles and joss paper for protection and to encourage good fortune. If you are not sure what to do, the helpful staff at the temple will show you the ropes. Man Mo Temple, Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan.



Day tripping in Cheung Chau Tara Smyth explores one of Hong Kong’s most popular outlying islands


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 MacDonalds 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.

Something fishy

island hopping

Climbing over Balancing Rock

Floating on Cheung Chau waterfront

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 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 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 Images. For details, visit NittyGrittyImages



InterContinental Maldives

Maamunagau Resort 38 | SAIKUNG.COM



Sunset Overwater Pool Villa

uxury is the name of the game at the recently opened InterContinental® Maldives Maamunagau Resort. With that being said, the resort strikes a careful balance, placing an emphasis on family values and conservation.

Nestled in the crystal clear waters of the beautiful Raa Atoll, this idyllic resort island is situated close to the Maldives’ only UNESCO biosphere reserve of Hanifaru Bay. Far from being simply picturesque, the reefs around Maamunagau Island attract an abundance of marine life including schools of dolphins, manta rays and whale sharks.

Guests arriving before 3.30pm at Malé’s Velana International Airport (VIA) are welcomed by a member of InterContinental Maldives and whisked to the seaplane terminal where they can enjoy refreshments in the dedicated InterContinental lounge before taking a picturesque 35-minute seaplane ride to the resort. Alternatively, those arriving later can take a 20-minute domestic flight followed by a luxury speedboat transfer via Dharavandhoo. Upon arrival, a Maldivian welcome awaits on the jetty accompanied by traditional song and dance. Guests are greeted by the General Manager, Stefan O Huemer as well as a dedicated Island Curator (InterContinental’s equivalent of a personal butler) who will be on call throughout the stay.

Gemma Shaw visits the Maldives’ latest ultra luxurious, family- and eco-friendly resort

Fresh from the opening in September, the resort boasts contemporary Maldivian interiors by Singaporean-based Avalon Collective Interior Design Studio. Accommodation comes in the form of 82 spacious beach, lagoon and overwater villas and residences. Each thoughtfully designed with the luxury-yet-nomadic traveller in mind. Those wanting a typical Maldivian experience should opt for an overwater villa, while those wanting direct access to the beach are catered for with beach villas. Guests fancying a bit of both are in the right place since InterContinental is the first in the region to offer lagoon-style villas (overwater on one side with access to the beach on the other.) Villas range in size from a 100 sq metre Overwater Sunrise Pool Villa to a three-bedroom Royal Beachfront Pool Residence which boasts 790 sq metres of private space and caters up to nine people. Features of all accommodations include generous lounge space, freestanding bathtubs, terrace areas, private pools and sweeping ocean views.



Café Umi

There are six restaurants on the island. Family-friendly Café Umi offers all-day poolside dining and serves an extensive breakfast menu, European favourites for lunch and a decadent dinner menu with Japanese influences. Breakfast can also be taken in The Retreat, a tranquil adult-only overwater restaurant offering all-day dining and evening cocktails and canapes. The Collective serves up stonebaked pizzas and gelato by the pool while dinner options include The Lighthouse which serves up Mediterraenan fare, The Fishmarket and Sunset Bar.

Maamunagau Island is the first InterContinental property to offer an allclub experience meaning that guests enjoy complimentary benefits throughout their stay. These include breakfast at The Retreat or Café Umi, afternoon tea with a resident tea sommelier, a two hour freeflow evening digestive featuring premium wines and cheeses as well as all-day refreshments at the poolside bar.

For me, the real surprise during this trip was just how accessible a holiday to the Maldives can be for families. From the seamlessly smooth transition from the airport to the packed activity schedule at Planet Trekkers - the resorts’ kid-parent club which is run by Olga, a highly personable trained teacher. (Note, Planet Trekkers is not referred to as simply a ‘kid’s club’ because at InterContinental Maldives there is a huge emphasis on family interaction - parents are encouraged to stop by and join activities with their children as and when they wish.) The majority of activities here are complementary including arts and crafts, outdoor exploration and education about local customs and sustainability. Other add-ons include sea explorations, dolphin spotting and cooking classes. In addition, professional babysitters are on hand throughout the day and into the night.

The highly-instagrammable overwater AVI Spa offers blissful signature massages, beauty treatments and consultations with a resident Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner. Snorkelling is a must since the reefs around the island are teaming with a diverse marine life including fish, sharks, dolphins and turtles. The resort runs a conservation programme in collaboration with Manta Trust and guests are welcomed to get involved in. The watersports centre offers a plethora of options and all non-motorised sports, including wind sailing and SUP, are complementary. Other than that, a packed activities schedule for

both children and adults runs from 6am9pm. Highlights include aerial yoga, moonlit movie nights and talks by the resident marine biologists. Most of the activities are complementary with a few exceptions such as boat excursions and diving expeditions.

Mantra ray

One of the major draws to this resort if you are considering a holiday in the Maldives is its conservation efforts. On acquiring the land, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) embarked on a partnership with Manta Trust. Since the Maldives is home to the largest known population of reef manta in the world, no destination is better suited to study and better understand these fascinating creatures. The positioning of Maamunagau Island close to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve makes it more ideal than most. Indeed on our last morning we headed out on a snorkelling trip to a nearby island with the marine biologists and within an hour had spotted and swam up close with three manta ray in a spot where they had never been seen before. The team excitedly hurried back to the resort to record their findings. Other environmental considerations include the use of recycled materials wherever possible throughout the resort, a strict no singleuse plastic policy and a coral repopulation programme.

How to get there Cathay Pacific flies directly to Malé, the capital of the Maldives, from Hong Kong four times a week, and Singaporean Airlines indirectly via Singapore. From Malé, you can take a scenic 35-minute seaplane journey over the Indian Ocean. InterContinental Maldives has an exclusive seaplane lounge at Malé’s international airport. For later arrivals in Malé, consider a domestic flight transfer or a cruise aboard the resort’s luxury yacht.


Relaxing at AVI Spa


zim city

Pok Fu Lam

High hopes for new district council Paul Zimmerman on the recent election results in the Southern District


he democrats won the district councils with 57 percent of the vote. The election results reconfirmed that between 54 and 60 percent of voters in Hong Kong support the democrats. What made the difference this time was two-fold.

For the first time the democrats had candidates running in every constituency. Secondly, voters perceived the election as a referendum. One side considered it a referendum on the governance of Hong Kong. The other side considered it a referendum on violent protests. All disregarded the experience of incumbents. As a result, the democrats won more than 80 percent of the seats, or 388 out of 452. With that, democrats will be able to elect 117 more members of the chief executive election committee when it starts its new term in 2022. Till then what will the democrats do with their control of 17 out of the 18 district councils? The Secretary for Home Affairs congratulated the elected councilors and reminded them of their role: to promote community building and to create a better living environment. The reminder was unnecessary. The councillors are keen to do a good job for their communities so that they can get re-elected in four years’ time.


The newly minted councillors can be expected to flex their muscles with engagement of their communities in deciding the works and services required. A major roadblock in getting things done has been removed. In the Southern District Council proposals often died a tortuous death simply because the proestablishment majority only supported their own ideas. With 15 out of the 17 Southern District Councillors now democrats we can put weight behind our ideas. We have created a joint-platform and a work plan for the four years ahead. Walkability, cycling, trail enhancement, better hygiene, improved transport, coping with wild boars, and the list goes on. Importantly, we are keen to kick start local economic development to counter the loss of business Hong Kong has suffered with the trade war and contestations over Hong Kong’s governance. Importantly, great effort will be made to make the work of the councils more transparent and inclusive. Besides place making programs, councillors are mulling over plans to establish youth councils, inviting secondary school students to propose, to vote on and to nominate ideas

for action by the district councils. I hope that the government will embrace the new councils and give their full support. In the last terms we had access to new budgets for signature projects and extra budgets for minor works. Let’s see that this practice is going to continue. With trust and encouragement I’m confident that the new term of district council will surprise many.

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

Photo credit@ Calvin Ki

sai kung secrets

The legend of Hanging Bell Island

How to get there Sai Kung islands cruise offers tours to the island. The three hour tour starts at Sai Kung Public Pier and sails over to Yim Tin Tsai island, Jin Island and Kiu Tsui Chau. $250 per person, $210 for children.

Eric Ho investigates the story behind Sai Kung’s Jin Island

Tiu Chung Chau translates to “Hanging Bell Island” in English, it’s name comes from a legend involving a Sung Dynasty official and Feng Shui master named Ho and a natural phenomenon in a cave on the island. The legend states that, at dawn the sun’s first rays shine into the cave create what looks like a golden bell hanging in the air. In the late Sung Dynasty, two roots of an old banyan tree that grew on the island dangled down from the top of the cave like two silk strings holding the golden bell. Ho believed that if he could bury a family member there, his family would become immensely important. Sure enough after he

buried a dead relative in the cave, he was promoted and became wealthy.

seven or eight days in the spring and autumn so he could worship and make sacrifices. This affected the livelihood of the fishermen, so they consulted another feng shui master about how to ruin the power of the island.

With power however, Ho became selfish. He would order fishermen to lash their boats together and form a bridge to the island for

Photo credit@ Calvin Ki


ocated south of Kau Sai Chau, Jin Island, better known as Tiu Chung Chau, in the Port Shelter of Sai Kung.

On his advice, they sprinkled the blood of a black dog over the banyan roots and cut them away from the tree. When they had finished, a great noise like a howl filled the bay. The mountains shook and the hillside collapsed, causing the banyan to fall into the sea. Ho lost his position not long after and vanished, never to be seen again. Know of a Sai Kung secret? Email



Ask a vet...

Dr Pauline Taylor answers your pet questions My dog keeps getting sores and holes in the pads on her paws. Our vet treats with a cleaning solution and cream, but why does this keep happening and what I can do to prevent it? Your vet should fully investigate the possible causes, or you should consider finding a vet who will. Obviously the medications you have been given aren’t working. That is most likely because it’s not the correct treatment for the root cause of the problem. Holes in the pads could be due to 1) a local problem such as an infection, trauma, self-destruction, parasites or allergies, or 2) a systemic problem resulting in signs in the pads such as poor nutrition, deficiencies. Your vet has options to perform diagnostic tests including taking tissue specimens, performing cytology on debris in the pad area or blood tests, faecal and urine analysis. Once the results are obtained your vet will better understand the cause and hopefully advise on prevention. With so much talk about dog poisoning, I really worry about my dog when I take

her for a walk. What should I do if she happens to ingest poison? The best way to avoid this situation is to NOT allow your dog access to a poison. If that means walking your dog on a lead for exercise with a muzzle, so be it. Keep away from known hot spot areas for poisoners e.g. Bowen Road or around signs advising that rat bait has been laid. If you catch your dog in the act of eating a potential poison first try and remove it. If you know or suspect that your dog has ingested a poison, it’s best to immediately call a vet and let them know you are on the way. Consult with the vet who can if indicated, induce vomiting in your pet and perform gastric lavage (so long as the poison is not more than two hours in the tummy). Try to get a sample and photograph of the poison as that can help the vet work out the best treatment options. I’ve just lost my hamster and I’m really sad about it. Do you have any advice for dealing with grief after a pet dies? Dealing with the death of a beloved pet can

Got a question for Dr. Pauline? Email

be very confronting. Suppressing emotions have been shown to be detrimental to health. Being allowed to express feelings of grieving help people cope with the stages of grief. These follow a path that classically starts with 1) shock and denial, plus 2) emotional release or body reactions, often followed by 3) guilt then 4) anger leading to 5) depression and panic to eventually turn into 6) acceptance or idealisation and 7) realisation that you can live with the loss of your pet. I encourage you to discuss your feelings of emotions and thoughts with others and hopefully you can move through the perfectly normal and recognized stages of grief to a stage when you can remember what a wonderful life your pet hamster had with you.

Dr. Pauline Pets Central veterinarian answers your questions.

Pak Tam Chung Family Trail Nicole Slater takes her pooches on an afternoon stroll Conveniently located just before the barrier of Sai Kung Country Park, Pak Tam Chung is perfect for a family-friendly walk and a great place for your dog to let off steam.

Head up through Pak Tam Chung Coach Parking Area and past the barbeque pit, where you’ll reach a concrete trail. The trail is well signposted, offers grassy and shady

areas and takes around an hour to complete. There are many trails leading away from the path which will take you up into the mountains, avoid these unless you’re up for more of a challenge. Keep an eye out for a stream about halfway along the trail since the stagnant water here is not safe for dogs to drink. How to get there: Take the 94 bus from Sai Kung Town and alight at Pak Tam Chung, or if you have dogs in tow there is free parking available next to the bus terminus.




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anuary is an intolerable, bleak winter month with an average high and low temperature of 18°C / 14°C (64.4°F / 57.2°F), not to mention the never-relenting humidity. But that’s the worst our garden will experience. We now stand at the start of 2020, a time of exciting beginnings and self-challenging endeavors. If you have doubt for your garden, appreciate uncertainty, for it keeps us planting. Chop chop, slap on your apron and roll up your sleeves. Let us roll in the dirt and dig our greens. Use this time wisely by planting cuttings of Violets, Geraniums and Hydrangeas. If you’re looking to add some creepers to your collection, now is the time to put in Beaumontia Grandiflora, Bignonias Solanum Wendlandii and Tecoma Capensis. Don’t forget to prune those Allamandas, Clerodendrum Nutans and your Plumbago Capensis! Moving onto our fruitful vegetable garden, tis’ the season to sow seeds of Chinese spinach, French beans. Peas, Cucumber, Tomato, Sweet Corn and Chinese Long Beans. Be sure to obtain your seeds from a reliable seedsman if you want a guaranteed germination. Earth up sprouted Celery as required and give the beds a good watering. Cuttings of the following flowering shrubs may be made at the end of the month: Abelia Chinensis, Allamandas, Barleria Cristata, Beloperone Oblongata and Buddleia Asiatica. Exciting news for your Gloxinias. They may now be big enough to shift into their flowering pots, a new home for the new year - how nice. One piece of advice: Do not set your resolutions lightly, for when unfulfilled, they will haunt you at the end of the deed. Whatever plans and dreams you have for your babies, be responsible, plough through it and make sure they grow and thrive. Don’t worry if errors or unexpected issues arise. That is the way of life and so be it. By William James Tutcher F.L.S. (1867-1920) Superintendent of Hong Kong Botanical Gardens. Paraphrased from his seminal 1906 work Gardening for Hong Kong.

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stephen says... together with the majority of other councillors who are new to this game. New blood and experience can be a winning combination. There is much for them to do and sweeping away the moribund Sai Kung District Council creates boundless opportunities to get things done.

The shameful cancellation of Trailwalker Trailwalker, Sai Kung’s biggest and arguably most successful annual event was cancelled last year on the pretext of threats to the safety of runners and their support crews. This cancellation was just one among many ordered by those intent on creating an atmosphere of panic in Hong Kong so as to discredit the protest movement. Unfortunately for them, many of the runners decided to ignore the cancellation and ran the gruelling 100km course without encountering any of these alleged dangers. The lie was thus neatly exposed but the organisers have remained shamefully silent.

Sai Kung waterfront

What’s next for Sai Kung?

Stephen Vines shares his thoughts on the political tsunami and other goings on around the town


here is no danger of being accused of hyperbole in saying that a political tsunami swept into Sai Kung because when the new district council takes office this month it will, for the first time in history, be dominated by pro-democracy councillors. The DAB, which has dominated the Sai Kung District Council, no longer has a single seat. DAB member George Ng, who has chaired the council since 1994, has been kicked out following defeat by newcomer Zoe Leung in Sai Kung Town. Turnout of voters among Sai Kungers was even higher than in most other parts of Hong Kong and the arrogance of the incumbents who, in many cases, barely bothered to campaign on the streets, was rewarded by their decisive rejection. The largest single party in the new council are the Neo Democrats with nine seats. Then there are two new local political forces scoring a 100 percent success rate giving the Sai Kung Commons three seats and the TKO Pioneers another three plus a number of democrats who ran as independents. It was particularly satisfying to see the victory of Sai Kung Commons’ Stanley Ho in Pak Sha Wan. Before the election Ho was viciously


attacked by assailants who undoubtedly had a political motive. His opponent in the area was DAB member Chan Keun-kwan, the long serving chairman of the Sai Kung Fight Crime Committee. Strangely, the crime committed against Ho appears to have slipped his attention. Winning the election was a staggering success but it is only one part of the coming battle not least because a non-elected government is highly likely to do what it can to undermine the newly elected councillors. Obstacles notwithstanding they need to demonstrate that they are worthy of the confidence bestowed by the electorate. Fortunately a good start has been made, not least by the Sai Kung Commons councillors who were elected on concise programmes not just reflecting their support for the protest movement but also emphasising sustainability, environmental protection and greater transparency within the council itself. There will also be some familiar faces in the council chamber such as the Neo Democrats’ leader and Legco member Gary Fan, alongside the indefatigable Christine Fong, who began her political career with the Liberal Party but has moved some distance away from them since. Hopefully the old hands will be able to work

All in all, some 10,000 people usually take part in this event, divided almost equally between runners and support teams who work year round to make the race a success. Moreover participants raise a considerable sum of money for Oxfam. It is both a sporting event and a joyful celebration of the Sai Kung countryside, such a pity then that it fell victim to political manipulation.

Rats The Year of the Rat will shortly be upon us, although Sai Kung appears to be pretty full of rats all year round. They get an awful press for being dirty and spreading disease but rats are not inherently dirty and they are smart. So maybe for the next twelve months we could all think better of these wily creatures who, so I am told, don’t live in sewers by preference but are marvellously adaptable creatures. It brings to mind my favourite rat story courtesy of the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev who was being shown around the World’s Fair by Richard Nixon, then the US Vice-President. Nixon took every opportunity to point out how this and that was so much better in the West, the diminutive Soviet leader was not amused and finally told Nixon, ‘even rats get to love their own cages you know’. On that happy thought, Kung Hei Fat Choi! Stephen Vines is a journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur. He is the former editor of the Eastern Express and Southeast Asia correspondent for The Observer.


Profile for Hong Kong Living Ltd

Sai Kung January 2020  

Sai Kung January 2020  

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