Hong Kong Living December 2020

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CONTENT S — 1 2 / 2 0



A Hong Kong Christmas Carol by Nury Vittachi

2 Contributors Meet the team

6 Snapped Life on Hong Kong Island

8 Planner What’s happening this festive season

10 News

19 Dining

35 Gardening

The best Christmas dinners in town

William James Tutcher F.L.S on what to plant this December

26 Gift Guide

36 Covid-19 Dating

Shop local this Christmas

Valentina Tudose on setting boundaries

30 Travel


Unwind with these festive staycations

33 Pets

Local news you need to know about

13 Five minutes with

Keeping pets out of mischief this Christmas

Lorenzo Coppola, ZUMA’s newly-appointed bar manager

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“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug” ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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EDITOR’S LETTER Hindsight is 2020. And as we can see all too clearly now - as we reel from tear gas, toilet paper runs, social media addiction and existential fear - if 2020 didn’t kill you, it made you stronger. This issue is all about reflecting on the past, and looking forward with optimism to the future. For our cover story we invited Nury Vittachi, Hong Kong’s greatest English language writer (and our back page columnist), to rewrite A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Check out his story (page 14). We might all feel a bit Scrood by 2020, but as Nury points out, things can only get better. We also pay tribute to that hardest hit sector - Hong Kong’s bars and restaurants - in a picture special on the second Hong Kong Dining Awards which was held at The Grounds last month. And for those wishing to say goodbye to 2020 in style, we list out the very best places to celebrate Christmas (page 19). Finally, we would like to thank everyone who has supported us this last year and wish you all a great 2021. It can only get better.

Editorial Editor-in-chief Nicole Slater, nicole@hongkongliving.com Digital Editor Apple Lee, apple@hongkongliving.com Senior Staff Writer Charmaine Ng, charmaineng@hongkongliving.com Contributing Editor Gemma Shaw, gemma@hongkongliving.com

Design Graphic Designer Yankee Tsang, yankee@hongkongliving.com Vicky Lam, vicky@hongkongliving.com

Sales & Marketing Director of Content Hilda Chan, hilda@hongkongliving.com Head of Digital Content Isamonia Chui, isamonia@hongkongliving.com Partnership Manager Chrissie Ip, chrissie@hongkongliving.com Elaine Li, elaine@hongkongliving.com Circulation Manager Pranali Gupta, pranali@hongkongliving.com

Things we love

Publisher Matt Eaton, matt@hongkongliving.com

Founding Director Tom Hilditch, tom@hongkongliving.com

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

talk@hongkongliving.com @hongkongliving @hongkongliving852

Chocolate advent calendars

bb cakes

A little piece of chocolate is the best way to start the day. Countdown to christmas with the most classy calendars in town, including La Maison Du Chocolat’s cracker advent calendar $720 and Peninsula Boutique’s Wonder Trove calendar $890.

Locally-based instagram bakery bb cakes offers a delicious selection of homemade basque burnt cheesecakes, the perfect treat after a big Christmas dinner. The cakes come in five original flavours including salted caramel and earl grey. Instagram: bbcakes.hk

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HONG KONG hongkongliving.com Hong Kong Living 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.

Illustration: Eloy Sanchez-Vizcaino


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Eloy Sanchez-Vizcaino

Valentina Tudose

Our award-winning cover illustrator lives in Catalonia, Spain. He studied design and sculpture at the University of Fine Arts of Barcelona. He works as a freelance illustrator for agencies and has published covers and several children’s books in local publishers.

Certified relationship coach and clinical hypnotherapist Valentina Tudose, shares four questions to ask yourself when setting healthy boundaries for a relationship, in our monthly dating column.

Lorenzo Coppola Zuma’s newly-appointed bar manager Lorenzo Coppola, is shaking things up in the restaurant and launched an entire cocktail series in a few short months. Coppola shares his thoughts on moving to the city during a pandemic and curbing his wanderlust in our five minutes with interview.

Sun Leung

Nury Vittachi Nury Vittachi is the award-winning Hong Kongbased author of more than 40 books, several of which have been published internationally in multiple languages. His journalism has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including The New York Times and Reader’s Digest. He tells the tale of Scrood, a Hong Kong property developer in this year’s Christmas story. nury@vittachi.com 4 | hongkongliving.com

After studying photography in California, Sun Leung moved back to Hong Kong in 2010 and started a career as portrait photographer. He ventured over to The Grounds this month to snap our sociallydistanced Hong Kong Dining Awards. Check out his images on our people page.

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Christmas displays •IFC Mall •LANDMARK •Pacific Place

The Great BaseHall Bake-off 6 | hongkongliving.com


Hong Kong Dining Awards at The Grounds

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What’s on this December DEC 18

The Hive Sheung Wan Christmas Market Shop for last minute gifts while supporting local businesses at this festive market. 128pm. Free. 33-35 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan. thehivesheungwan.com.hk

DEC 19-20

Baby Shark Live Expect plenty of singing and dancing as the sharks take part in Reefville’s first annual treasure hunt. Multiple showtimes. From $280. Star Hall, 3/F, KITEC. pinkfong.com

DEC 25

DEC 16

Christmas Day

Hong Kong Living is celebrating the festive season with a three-course meal and free-flow drinks at Ruam. The lunch will raise funds to support Feeding Hong Kong and Box of Hope, with all raffle proceeds donated. 12-3pm. $450. Ruam, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai. hongkongliving.com/shop


Angels For Children Christmas Gift Donation Drive Donate much needed gifts to the children of Po Leung Kuk and Society for Community this festive season. Drop off locations include TREE and GFI Hong Kong. angels-for-children.org

provide a donation box to help give back to those in need this festive season. Free. 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. hyatt.com


Dachshund Through The Snow Celebrate your favourite sausage dogs and bring your own along to ring in the festive season, at the Kowloon Waterfront Promenade. 3pm. Free. West Kowloon Harbourfront.

DEC 26

Three Islands Green Race Burn off those Christmas calories and race across various islands including Lamma, Launtau and Hong Kong Island. Travelling time from one island to the other will not be accounted for. 7am6.30pm. From $400. Central Ferry Pier 4. tgr.run

The Nutcracker

Three Islands Green Race Hong Kong Ballet had vowed to bring The Nutcracker back to the theatre for its ninth consecutive year. Suitable for ages three and above. From $180. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. hkballet.com Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco, courtesy of Hong Kong Ballet

Hong Kong Living Christmas Charity Lunch

Sit back and enjoy the turkey, Christmas is finally here.


Christmas Market at LANDMARK

DEC 1-27

Grand Hyatt’s Santa’s Grotto Say hello to your favourite man in red on the Grand Hyatt’s Mezzanine floor for a Christmas meet and greet with Santa. The hotel will also provide a donation box to help give back to those in need this festive season. Free. 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. hyatt.com

DEC 1-27

Grand Hyatt’s Santa’s Grotto Say hello to your favourite man in red on the Grand Hyatt’s Mezzanine floor for a Christmas meet and greet with Santa. The hotel will also

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Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in style at LANDMARK’s European inspired market. Shop at popular pop-ups including Senreve and Indigo Living. You can also enjoy tasty treats from LMO Freshly Baked by Richard Ekkebus. Free. 3/F, LANDMARK ATRIUM, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central. landmark.hk

DEC 12-13

Hong Kong Living Christmas Getaway Celebrate the festive season in style with stunning views of Repulse Bay, as we proudly partner up The Pulse for a weekend of festive fun, with market stalls, workshops, rooftop lounge and festive cocktails. 12-6pm. Free. The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay. hongkongliving.com/shop

DEC 25-27

The Last Dance Acclaimed choreographer Mui Cheuk Yin brings the classic tale of The Last Night of Madam Chin by Pai Hsien-yung to life in a dazzling performance. 7:45-9:15pm. From $220. Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium, 12 Hing Ning Road, Kwai Chung. hkdance.com

DEC 31

New Year’s Eve We’re all glad to see the back of 2020. Whether you’re celebrating at home or out partying, stay safe and have fun.


Book Now JAN 10

JAN 23-24

Choose a 5km or 10km hike around Tai Tam Country Park to raise money for the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. 9am-2pm. Hong Kong International School, 1 Red Hill Road, Tai Tam. cancer-fund.org

Spend the night on one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful beaches, meet new people and enjoy an evening BBQ. Meet at Sai Kung Bus Terminus at 9am. $120. cavadventures.org

Stride for a Cure

Long Ke Wan Camping Adventure

JAN 19-24

Hong Kong Race Week Based out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club’s Middle Island facility, racing will be conducted

across four race courses in the areas of Middle Island, Repulse Bay, Deep Water Bay, Stanley, Tai Tam and Beaufort. 9am-6.30pm. Free. hongkongraceweek.com

JAN 23 HK50

Race three of the HK50 series covering distances of 6km, 10km, 25km or 54km. 7am-5pm. $280. Shing Mun Reservoir Catchwater, Tsuen Wan. actionasiaevents.com

Got an event? We can publish the details. Email editorial@hongkongliving.com

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HONG KONGSINGAPORE TRAVEL BUBBLE BURSTS The much-lauded travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore was grounded just hours before it was due to take off last month. The travel corridor was initially supposed to kick off on November 22, but will now be deferred, due to a surge in local Covid-19 cases. Edward Yau, secretary for commerce and economic development, said the decision was made after a discussion between both governments. The formal launch will be announced in due course. “In light of the recent upsurge of local cases, we have decided together with the Singapore government that we will defer the launching of the Air Travel Bubble by two weeks.”

RARE SKINFUEL OPENS AT LANDMARK Homegrown skincare brand RARE SkinFuel (RSF) has launched its first concept store in LANDMARK. To commemorate the opening, a cocktail party was held on November 11, with founder (and cover star of November’s Expat Parent) Michelle Chen arranging a dancing performance by Brazilian dancers. The new concept store will provide personal

skincare shopping experiences with tips and tricks of using RSF’s signature products for your daily skincare routine and include treatment rooms in the store to provide facial services using RSF professional-line products. Visit the new store to experience RSF’s Australian-made products for yourself. rareskinfuel.com

COOKIE SMILES LAUNCHES HANDCRAFTED DOG TREATS After launching a charitable cookie drive earlier this year, Hong Kong social enterprise Cookie Smiles has returned with a new range of dog treats to raise funds for those in need. Called Woof Twisters, proceeds from the sale of these all-natural dog treats will be directed to charitable enterprises across the city. 15 percent of all annual profits will be dedicated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hong Kong (SPCA), in addition to 20 percent that the charity donates to Splash Foundation and Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association. cookiesmiles.com.hk

INTERNATIONAL POST DATES ANNOUNCED It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Make sure to get your Christmas shopping done in time and more importantly, posted in time. The Hong Kong Post has released information on the latest dates of posting for this year’s Christmas airmail. While the dates are provisional, they are worked

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out based on the requirements of overseas postal administration and are subject to availability of flight services. Gifts to the US should’ve been posted before November 19; and gifts to the UK should be posted before December 2. For the full list, visit hongkongpost.hk

RIDE AND LEARN Hong Kong’s iconic Observation Wheel and AIA Vitality Park have launched an app to elevate the riders experience. Using Augmented Reality (AR) technology, app users can see Hong Kong from three perspectives, beyond the beginning (1890-1920), city in transition (1960-1980) and the present day, through vivid visual immersions. This technology encourages visitors to learn about Hong Kong’s development and is available for free on IOS and Android, in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. hkow.hk


THE PENINSULA SAYS GOODBYE TO CHECK-IN AND CHECK-OUT TIMES With the concept of travel having been turned on its head in 2020, hotel groups are using the time to review their core operations. From January next year, guests at the Peninsula can take advantage of Peninsula Time – a programme that allows for a fully flexible check-in and check-out experience. Guests can arrange to have their room ready as early as 6am on their arrival date and check out as late as 10pm on their departure date at no extra charge. The change is part of its wide-ranging “Peninsula Promise”, a commitment it has made to providing guests with a premium luxury experience. “Especially now that travel has become somewhat more challenging, we understand that extra time is one of the most meaningful gifts we can provide to our guests,” said Gareth Roberts, group director of brand and operations support for The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, owner and operator of The Peninsula. peninsula.com

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FIVE MINUTES WITH What is the most rewarding part of being a bartender? Nowadays, bartenders are getting more recognition for our work and there is a growing number of awards celebrating the drinks industry. Regardless, my goal stays the same – I’m focused on building a unique bond with my guests through cocktails and conversation. Others are just bonuses. With Christmas approaching, what tips do you have for hosting the perfect holiday party? We all need a moment of pleasure after such an intense year. An incredible place with great food and drinks to relax and unwind; and being surrounded by people that you love will make the perfect party. What is your go-to Christmas cocktail? Something that reminds me of the fun times.

Shaking it up

Apple Lee meets Zuma’s newly-appointed bar manager, Lorenzo Coppola

The middle of a pandemic may strike most people as an odd – if not risky – time to move across the world and start afresh in a new city. Not only had Lorenzo Coppola taken the leap to relocate to Hong Kong and joined Zuma as its new bar manager during this period of uncertainty, he was able to launch an entire cocktail series in the few short months he has joined the team. Born in Livorno, Italy, the intrepid mixologist started out as a bar-back in a luxury resort when he was 17. Shortly after, he left his birthplace and moved to Milan to further his skills and pursue a career in bartending. In 2017, Coppola visited Zuma Rome for an aperitif and immediately fell in love with its synergy and atmosphere. Seizing the opportunity in front of him, he asked for a job interview on the spot and one week later he joined Zuma’s bar team. Since then, he has stayed on with the restaurant group and worked at various Zuma locations including Dubai (which was named No.23 on the World’s Best Bar 2020 list), Las

Vegas, Miami and Mykonos. Here, he talks to Hong Kong Living about swapping out heavy knits for T-shirts this Christmas, his go-to festive cocktail and the cure to wanderlust amidst the current travel restrictions. What is your process when creating a cocktail? I’m always looking for a complete sensory experience that connects the flavours of the drink with the vibe of the bar. We make cocktails for guests, not to show how good we are. Sometimes less is more, you only need a few ingredients to make a great cocktail – it’s all about the balance. What challenges did you face when starting out in the industry? The bar industry sees no lack of talents, which makes it more challenging to stand out. At the same time, the competition also pushes my boundaries in this multifaceted world of hospitality.

Will Zuma be preparing any festive cocktails this year? Taking inspiration from Hong Kong’s glimmering Christmas lights, we have created a dreamy blue Christmas Pina, a rendition of the classic Pina Colada. It is a mix of white rum, pineapple and clarified coconut cream with a hint of yuzu. While it remains difficult for most of us to travel and enjoy a hot Christmas this year, a sip of our tropical drink may help to soothe the wanderlust. Do you have any Christmas traditions? I used to spend Christmas with my family at my grandma’s house in Italy and it’s pretty much like what you see on Christmas cards with knit sweaters and a roaring fireplace. But this year, I’m excited to spend Christmas with my family over Skype, wearing flip-flops and T-shirts – it will be hilarious. This is also my first Christmas in Hong Kong and I’m looking forward to exploring the city during the holidays. What gift would you like for Christmas? I haven’t thought much about it yet, but alcohol is always a good choice. While 2020 has been a challenging year, do you have any positive highlights to share? Of course. I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome from the wonderful people of Hong Kong’s bar industry. They have turned the bar scene into a positivity powerhouse despite the pandemic. What are you most looking forward to next year? Well, I can’t reveal much about the project we’ve been working on, but I can guarantee it will be fun and inspiring – so stay tuned.

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Scrood: A Hong Kon

Written by Nury Vittachi, illustrated by Eloy Sanchez-V

Chapter one

MA LEI WAS DEAD. Mr. Scrood slipped out of the boring funeral ceremony and failed to hide his smile. Heh-heh-heh. The grinning property developer had bought the site of Robert Ma Lei’s first supermarket at auction, promising to turn it into a memorial for the businessman. Memorial? Get real. He’d replace it with a tower of 800 luxury apartments—with a little plaque in the rear lobby mentioning his dead friend. Scrood’s timorous assistant Ms Chin noticed his smile and plucked up the courage to ask if she could leave a little earlier today, as her family’s Christmas tradition was to serve at St James, a homeless shelter. “No, you may not,” said Scrood. “I don’t approve of any places where people can live for free. Except prisons, of course.” (Building jails could be very profitable.) As a young man, Scrood, the child of a Chinese mother and a Scottish father, had made a fortune in shanty towns. He made cheap hovels which used no bricks, no cement, and no nails. Instead, pieces of particle board were cheaply screwed together to make shacks. With his dark sense of humour, he called the hovels 14 | hongkongliving.com

and the firm Totally Screwed. Today Scrood was one of Hong Kong’s top property developers.

Chapter two

SCROOD ENTERED HIS APARTMENT without turning on the light (electricity costs money) and was shocked to see a glowing, transparent figure wrapped up in chains. “Ma Lei!” exclaimed Scrood, backing away. “Yes, it’s me,” said Ma Lei’s ghost. “I must wander the earth as punishment for my sins, which include 1.3 million individual cases of charging $26 for a carton of milk.” Robert Ma Lei and his Korean wife Jane Park had run a supermarket chain called ParknRob, a branch of which was in every housing estate built by Scrood’s company, Totally Screwed Land Development. “You will be visited by three spirits with important lessons,” Ma Lei said, and vanished. Scrood pinched himself. He must have eaten something which had given him a hallucination. He drank a glass of water to settle his stomach and went to bed, quickly falling asleep.

Chapter three

BUT HE WOKE UP suddenly an hour later. At the foot of his bed was a


ng Christmas Carol

Vizcaino Mengual. Based on a tale by Charles Dickens

glowing child-like figure who said: “I am The Ghost of Hong Kong Past. Come with me.” The spectre grabbed Scrood’s hand and they flew out of the window, soaring into the air. What did I eat? Prawn curry? Amsterdam chocolate brownies? He looked down to find they were flying over green fields dotted with small villages. “This is the South China coast as it was on Christmas Day, 1969,” the spirit said. Scrood saw a beautiful young woman with a battered suitcase crossing a bridge. “I feel I recognize that woman,” he said. “Your mother as a girl of 20,” said the spirit. On the Hong Kong side of the bridge was a pale-skinned young man in a uniform. “My father?” Scrood asked. But the spirit whisked him away so fast that the developer saw nothing except blurred clouds. “Where are we going now?” “Wrong question,” said The Ghost of Hong Kong Past. “You should be asking: To when are we going?”

Chapter four

THEY EMERGED FROM THE clouds and the spirit swooped down, pulling Scrood with him to hover over a group

of young people entering a white European-style building. “I know where we are! St Paul’s College, Hong Kong’s oldest school,” Scrood said excitedly. “There’s my sister Amy.” The sight of his beloved sister and their friends moved him, and his heart was suddenly full. “Which one is me?” he asked. “You’re not with them,” the spirit said. “They’re going to an alumni party to raise funds for charity. You’re over there.” The spirit pointed to a shanty town on the hillside, where people dressed in ragged clothes were building flimsy shacks. On a road nearby was a van bearing a slogan on the side: “Totally Screwed Co Ltd: Build a Home With Just a Screwdriver”. A young man sat at the wheel counting cash—that was him! “Well, better a hovel than no home at all,” Scrood said defensively. “Your particle board structures softened in the rain so the screws could not hold them together. They would collapse, leaving your customers without homes or money.” Scrood looked back at the group of happy, laughing young people and wondered why he did not spend his days with them instead. A wave of sadness washed over him. hongkongliving.com | 15

COVER STORY Chapter five

SUDDENLY, ANOTHER SPIRIT appeared in the air—a large woman in green who took Scrood’s other hand and pulled him away. “I am The Ghost of Hong Kong Present,” she said. Again they travelled fast through blurred clouds, but emerged over a very different scene. Gleaming towers appeared around them, and from below rose the hum of traffic. This was today’s Hong Kong. It was dusk, and entire buildings were lit up with moving images of rainbow Christmas scenes. They zoomed to street level to find people browsing andshopping, smiles clear despite their masks. Children queued to see Santa Claus. “Yet the poor must hate Christmas, trapped in their tiny flats, unable to join in,” said Scrood. “Let’s take a look,” said The Ghost

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of Hong Kong Present. They flew to Mei Foo Sun Tsuen in Kowloon, one of the world’s largest and oldest property developments.

Chapter six

THE BUILDING IN FRONT of them, one of 99 towers in the Lai Chi Kik development, became partly transparent. Scrood expected people to be miserable in their cramped homes, but to his surprise, he saw much joy. In one flat, his assistant Ms Chin and her daughter sang Christmas songs, while her husband and son laughed over a board game. Scrood felt guilty. He had privately nicknamed Ms Chin “Mo Cheen” meaning “no money”. I pay her so little, he said to himself. Then the spirit who was holding his hand swung him round hard—and let go of his hand. He screamed as he started falling:

and then gasped as he landed in the arms of a third spirit, who rose effortlessly into the air. He looked at the face of the person who had caught him—and was horrified to see no features. He was in the arms of a faceless hooded figure in a black robe. “Death!” Scrood exclaimed in a quavering voice. “My time has come? My life is over, like Ma Lei’s?” “Not necessarily,” came the answer from a low voice. “Tonight I play the role of The Ghost of Hong Kong Yet To Come.”

Chapter seven

THE THIRD SPIRIT TOOK him on a journey through more clouds to a pair of identical futuristic cities, side by side. “There will be two Hong Kongs?” Scrood asked. “No. There are infinite possible futures,” the spirit replied. “But I show you two extremes: one which

COVER STORY was plundered for profit and power by business people and political tricksters from inside and outside the city’s borders, and one in which the people in this community were left in peace to work together for everyone’s good.” Again, they swooped down and flew through the streets, comparing the two cities. In one Hong Kong, people were smiling and laughing and had a spring in their step. In the other, the residents were silent and haunted, dragging their feet. “How can we ensure we get the happier, healthier future?” Scrood asked. “There is no magic button to make a happy society,” said the spirit. “Yet it can be achieved very simply. All it takes is for each of us to show a little kindness.” Scrood nodded enthusiastically. “Let me live! I can help. Developers can build social housing for the young and the poor,” he said. “Retailers can sell goods at reasonable prices. People can set

aside their differences and support each other’s services. And we can all help the poorest.” “But will you?” the spirit asked. “I will, I will, I promise I will,” he said. He turned to the spirit for reassurance—but she let go of his hand. He was falling, falling, falling and then he was in his bed, stirring as if half-awakened from a dream. He felt himself falling back into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Chapter eight

SCROOD WOKE EARLY, dressed himself as quickly as he could, and raced to the lobby of his building. “What day is it?” he asked. “Christmas Day,” said the door guard, hoping for a gift. “Excellent,” said Scrood, handing him a stack of banknotes. Outside, he hailed a taxi—and handed the driver another pile of money.

“I’m booking you for the day,” he said. “Take me shopping so I can support as many local businesses as I can. Then we need to deliver gifts to a little flat in Mei Foo.” Scrood looked through the taxi windows at the people on the streets. Offices were closed today and people were delivering gifts to friends and family members. A blue sky shone over Hong Kong at its cheery, breezy best. “You know how we can make our community better?” Scrood said to the taxi driver. “All it takes is for each of us to show a little kindness. Merry Christmas!” The taxi driver, who was Ms Chin’s husband, nodded his agreement. “Peace and goodwill to all mankind,” he said, turning the wheel so they would drive directly to St James’ shelter for the homeless. “God bless us, every one.”

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Photo: The Optimist



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Christmas dining


Have a holly jolly time feasting this festive season. By Apple Lee and Katrina Lau Zuma Spoil yourself with Zuma’s free-flow champagne brunch this Christmas. Featuring the usual suspects of sushi and robata items, the contemporary Japanese restaurant is also serving a tantalising Christmas edition dessert platter featuring fluffy cinnamon doughnuts and warm

chocolate caramel cakes. To give you the full festive experience, Zuma will bring Santa’s grotto to the restaurant where families and kids can meet the jolly old man himself. When the night falls, the restaurant’s famous night brunch gets an upgrade with a special Christmas celebration. zumarestaurant.com

Hue Located at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hue offers a front-row seat to the Victoria Harbour. Its four-course Christmas menu kicks off with an impressive array of canapes to share. The options for mains include a confit turkey leg served with walnut mousse; and Wagyu flank steak with smoked egg gribiche and truffle sauce. Available only for Christmas Eve lunch, the contemporary Australian restaurant offers a number of gourmet delicacies including pumpkin and smoked chestnut soup; and beef cheek with beetroot and rhubarb ketchup. huedining.com.hk

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The Optimist

If you’re hosting a bunch of cheerful friends or just want a vibrant twist to the traditional celebration, this modern Middle East eatery is the pick for you. On top of Bedu’s signature menu, Christmas Day specials feature the Smoked Kingfish served with homemade Turkish pancakes, pickles and sweet yoghurt. For some mediterranean dessert, leave some space for the Christmas baklava rice pudding. Guests can also enjoy Bedu’s festive free flow and bubbles to mark the occasion. bedurestaurant.com

This Christmas, Pirata is whipping up generous plates of homey comfort dishes. From the signature burrata and cold cuts to lobster spaghetti and veal roast, the classic Italian restaurant is set to bring you a wholesome festive party in a heartwarming scene. pirata.hk

‘Tis the season to be jolly, so keep your spirits high and indulge in a sumptuous holiday meal. The Optimist is spicing up its brunch and dinner menus to honour the winter holiday. On top of its fan favourites such as the grilled suckling pig and a wide selection of authentic tapas, the stylish Spanish restaurant is also offering a vegetarian menu for plant-based diners. theoptimist.hk

Wooloomooloo Prime

Francis For a proper family-style feast, Francis is bringing Middle-Eastern inspirations to the festive occasion. Featuring a traditional Jerusalem stuffed roast lamb shoulder and holiday specials like the Moroccan-inspired quail pastilla and sweet Arabic pancake, the casual neighbourhood eatery is putting forth something entirely different than your usual Christmas turkey dinner. Being a wine-centric restaurant, Francis also offers a stellar list of vinos from over 30 labels to wash everything down. francis.com.hk

This Christmas Eve, head to Wooloomooloo Prime for a delectable four-course dinner. Perched atop Tsim Sha Tsui’s The ONE, the steakhouse offers a bird’s eye view of the glittering Hong Kong skyline. Available for one night only, the dinner starts with a glass of sparkling cocktail and features the slow-roasted turkey breast and the restaurant’s signature Australian grain-fed sirloin grilled to perfection. woo-prime.com

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Nibbles Wine and Dine Festival is back

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, the annual Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival has returned in a brand new format that engages participants across both virtual and physical spaces. For the first time ever, the festival is hosting a range of online and

offline activities that allow epicureans and oenophiles from around the world to take part in the celebrations. Spanning across five weeks until December 15, the festival offers a plethora of online cooking masterclasses, wine tasting experiences and dining deals. winedinefestival.discoverhongkong.com

The end of an era In over more than a decade that it has been open, Café Gray Deluxe has become a Hong Kong institution. Perched on the 49th floor of The Upper House, the grand restaurant set a new tone for the city’s luxury dining scene when it was established in 2009. Sadly, all good things must come to an end – and the restaurant has announced that it will be closing its doors on December 31. As for what comes after the shuttering of this institution, a new concept will be opening in spring 2021, marking a new chapter for The Upper House. thehousecollective.com

La Rotisserie The popular French takeaway chain is delivering turkey, capon, barbarie duck and free-range chickens imported directly from France. Each dish is roasted in house using traditional French techniques and can serve from four to 10 people, depending on your party size. Orders must be made at least three days in advance. larotisserie.com.hk

Eclipse Hospitality Save the cooking for another day with Eclipse Hospitality Group’s festive packages. Diners can enjoy a traditional 10 to 12lb carved or whole roasted US turkey dinner complete with a range of sides starting from just $1,580. eclipse.com.hk

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Christmas GIFT GUIDE

Nicole Slater suggests locally-sourced gifts for the whole family

Naked Lab Since starting just two years ago, Naked Lab has won multiple international awards for its high quality, vegan BambooSilk bedding. Originally focusing on baby cot sheets the brand has now expanded into children and adult ranges, providing high quality luxurious bedding for the whole family. This Christmas, Naked Lab’s is offering unique personalised stockings and 20 percent off their bespoke hampers nakedlab.me

My Sweet Darling - Baby/Kid's Gift Hamper $880

The Perfect Pair - Couple Gift Hamper $1,820 Better Together - Family Gift Hamper $2,680

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Fortnum & Mason From Piccadilly to Hong Kong, the 312-year-old British retailer first opened its doors in K11 MUSEA in 2019 and This year the Fortnum & Mason is offering four exclusive Hong Kong hampers containing some of its classic treats including biscuits, tea, truffles and champagne to celebrate the festive season in style. fortnumandmason.com

Marshall Marshall has a longstanding reputation for quality vibes and slick, modern design. The Acton II Voice speaker boasts a built-in Google Assistant to control music without you having to lift a finger. Every song on the planet is accessible at the sound of your voice and this device has far-field voice recognition, so that even when the tunes are blaring, Google Assistant will hear you. Available from Lane Crawford and K11 Design Store. lanecrawford.com.hk, k11designstore.com

The Fortnum’s Christmas Collection $2,288

The Merry Christmas Gift Box $1,630

Marshall Acton II Voice $2,999



Catering to the modern-day spiritualists, OMSA offering is offering a unique toolkit for holistic self-care and spiritual awakening this festive season. With hand-poured soy candles, crystal kits and bath salts, you can personalise the ultimate self-care package to help your loved ones find their zen this Christmas. omsa.world

Celebrate all things Hong Kong with 852prints eco-friendly T-shirts, greeting cards, accessories and more. Its Christmas card collection features cheeky takes on the festive season in Hong Kong that are guaranteed to make your loved ones chuckle. Each greeting card is printed locally on recycled paper with soy-based inks, so you can shop guilt-free and local this holiday. 852prints.com

The Ultimate Self Care Gift Set $765

Red sail hat $269

The Soul Healing Gift Set $730

Rudolph's struggle $39

Jingle all the way $39

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Cubed Give your loved ones the gift of relaxation this Christmas with the Cubed’s CBD Drops, lotion and body butter. Using one of the most advanced extraction methods, Cubed CBD Drops are infused with 99 percent purity CBD isolate, the most powerful CBD product currently available in Hong Kong. The Drops help relieve stress, improve sleep and reduce anxiety, while Cubed’s CBD skincare range offers promising results that you can find on their website. The brand also offers pet CBD oil so you can treat them this festive season too. Use code hongkongliving at checkout to receive a free CBD Drops Tester. cubedcbdhk.com

Cubed CBD Drops (400mg) $380

Cubed CBD DROPS (1000mg) $650

BABYZEN For the yummy mummy in your life, BABYZEN’s YOYO² stroller and YOYO bassinet is an ultra-compact and stylish way to escort your baby around town. The stroller can fold and unfold in seconds and can be worn over the shoulder. When your little one isn’t so little, mums can simply swap to the 6+ colour pack, perfect for everyday use for newborns to toddlers. babyzen.com

YOYO² $4,300 YOYO bassinet $2,300

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Cubed Relief Body Butter $380


Escapade sports Offering a wide variety of quality sports items, there is something for the whole family at Escapade sports. From marathon equipment to yoga gear, the fitness retailer is the perfect one-stop shop for those looking to get a kick-start on their New Year’s resolutions. With an online platform and stores across Hong Kong Island, shoppers can conveniently access their chosen gifts, even on Christmas Eve. Better yet, all items are easily exchangeable for wrong sizes or colours. escapade.com.hk Ultraspire Zygos 4.0 Hydration Pack $1390

Icebreaker Merino Tech-Lite Tee $680 Manduka Yoga Mat from $399, accessories from $99

SodaMagic Add a little fizzy to your festivities with SodaMagic’s Sparkling Water Machine and save the hassle of carrying bottles from the supermarket while also reducing plastic waste. The machine allows you to customise your own sparkling creations with multiple carbonation settings to make every glass perfect. sodamagic.hk

SodaMagic 'Auto' $980

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Home for the holidays

Staying in Hong Kong this festive season? Nicole Slater rounds up the best staycation deals With most of us staying put this Christmas, there has never been a better time to check into some of the city’s most luxurious hotels. Here are some of our favourite staycation deals this festive season.

K11 ARTUS Located in pride of place on Victoria Dockside, K11 ARTUS offers panoramic views of Victoria Harbour from its spacious and modern guest rooms. The ultra-private residences are designed to feel like home, with wrap around balconies and plenty of space for families to spend quality time together. This Christmas guests can receive 20 percent off their booking when subscribing to the hotel’s e-newsletter until December 31. Along with a room discount, the residence also has a range of seasonal menus tailored with wine pairings, for visitors to raise a toast this festive season. artus.com.hk

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The Langham Located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, The Langham is well-known for its European-style interiors and designer boutiques. The hotel boasts 498 guest rooms and suites overlooking the city, a rooftop gym and heated swimming pool, perfect for a winter dip. This Christmas the hotel is offering a Design The Candyland of

Your Dreams room package, until January 7. The package includes a one night stay in the superior room, a box of Christmas candyland decorations, complementary breakfast and minibar, along with $1,100 in-room dining credit for two for $1,288, All you need to do is show up with your Christmas spirit. langhamhotels.com

The Landmark Mandarin Oriental The iconic Landmark Mandarin Oriental is a five-star retreat in the middle of central. With three Michelin-starred restaurants and an array of suits, the hotel made it onto Travel + Leisure’s list of Top 100 Hotels in the World earlier this year. For the festive season Landmark Mandarin Oriental is offering a Santa Is Callin’ staycation package for guests to experience the true magic of Christmas. The package includes a limousine transfer, Landmark Mandarin Oriental bespoke Christmas welcome and turndown amenities, exclusive discounts on dining and spa treatments


and a complimentary one-hour private sound experience at KEF Music Gallery. For the foodie’s out there, Hotel Icon also offers a Foodcation package, which allows guests to enjoy a variety of exclusive dining options across all of Hotel ICON’s signature restaurants from $1,560. hotel-icon.com

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

and upto 50 percent off a second night’s stay. This offer is available until December 31 at $3,900. mandarinoriental.com

Having assumed its pride of place on Victoria Harbour since 1989, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong is home to one of the city’s largest rooftop pools with poolside bar, The Grill. The five-star hotel hosts 10 uniquely designed restaurants and bars including the recently revamped Grissini and the popular Tiffin, located on the Mezzanine floor. This December Grand Hyatt Hong Kong is offering a relaxing retreat for guests who book the bed and breakfast package from December 1 to January 10. Guests will enjoy breakfast for two at the Grand Café, a bottle of Champagne upon arrival and a complimentary festive themed cake for $2,030 per night. The hotel will also feature a meet and greet with Santa on the Mezzanine floor until December 27. hyatt.com

The Upper House The bespoke hotel above Pacific Place needs no introduction. Designed by award-winning architect and interior designer Andre Fu, the hotel modern and sophisticated style is one to marvel at. The Upper House is introducing a new The House is Aglow room package for guests to experience the hotel like never before. The package includes a one night stay in a spacious studio room, $500 gift card to use around the hotel, daily set breakfast and a three-course dinner for two at Café Gray Deluxe before its closure on December 31. The House is Aglow room package is valid until December 30 for $3,900 per night. thehousecollective.com

Hotel Icon Capturing the essence of Hong Kong, Hotel ICON is a luxurious hotel located in Hung Hom. As one of the first environmentally friendly hotels in the city, Hotel ICON features a vertical garden in the lobby and an electric hotel shuttle bus to escort guests to and from the location. The new Snapcation package on offer this festive season gives guests a unique 30-minute photo opportunity inside the Designer Suite by Vivienne Tam, along with buffet breakfast at The Market

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Ask a vet... Dr Pauline shares her tips to avoid a visit to an ER this festive season Christmas treats During the festive period there are many goodies laying around that are hazards for our pets. One item to avoid at all costs is rawhide pet toys and treats. The vast majority of them are made from cattle or horse hides which get soaked in many chemicals to split the hides into layers, bleach them and remove the rancid smell. Then they get cut into shapes, and glue and colorings used to form “cute” Santa’s or Christmas trees. On testing many have shown traces of arsenic, mercury, chromium and formaldehyde to name a few, certainly not ingredients to feed our pets. Other holiday goodies to be aware of include foods with a high fat content. Ice cream, raisins, grapes and onions are toxic leading to blood abnormalities and renal failure. Sweet items that contain artificial sweeteners can be toxic, while chocolate leads to seizures and heart problems. Take extreme care where you store your chocolate boxes and gifts, some pets can open edible gifts wrapped under a Christmas tree. Cats are included in this prank. My own cat found her gift under my family tree and before my eyes teared off the gift wrap,

chewed the package and gorged on the cat treats inside. Decorations Certain flowers and plants are dangerous to our pets. Lilies, all parts of them, are fatal to cats causing renal failure. A very good friend told me she had received a bouquet of lilies for her birthday and unbeknown to her, one of her cats ingested the lily by-products and despite her vet trying everything he could her lovely cat died one week after her birthday bouquet arrived. If you do have cats I suggest never have lilies at home. Dogs can also get poisoned but are less likely to show such serious side effects. Other toxic plants include Mistletoe which causes diarrhoea and the ever present poinsettia can cause mild irritation to lips and mucous membranes in addition to gastroenteritis. Activities Anxious animals perhaps upset by the “extra activities” around them, may turn to objects to chew to release their stress. This is a form

of displacement behavior. Interesting things to chew can include cables and cords belonging to festive lights or lanterns, wrapping paper, candles and even the Christmas tree. I’ve seen several trees demolished by rambunctious dogs and I even found a Christmas glitter ball in a dog’s digestive system. When strangers come around, and in particular if your dog or cat isn’t used to visitors, it is a good idea to shut your pet out of the way in a safe room or cage/basket. They will be much happier and you can relax too. Remember as the weather gets colder our pets feel the difference in temperature too. They can get hypothermia so they need warm shelters or bedding at all times and fresh clean water every day. May I wish everyone, two, four legs, with feathers, beaks and claws a very happy Christmas and a wonderful healthy new year.

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What to plant in


December weather facts : - Average high temperature: 20°C - Average low temperature: 15°C - Average rainfall days: 4 days

The dry and clear weather continues into the month of December, the harsh mistress puts our effort and love for the garden to the test, intimidating us with bonechilling temperatures. But not even a bit, do I fear. Us Hong Kong gardeners have it relatively well off in comparison to our British counterparts. Lay out a loosely-fitted flannel shirt and high-waisted cotton trousers – remember to add a quilted gilet if it starts to get chilly. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the final chapter of 2020’s gardening epic. Winter may not seem inviting, but there are a few vegetables that she permits growth. The seeds of the following may be sown: mustard and cress, lettuce, radish, cabbage, celery, turnip, peas and French beans. For French beans, get the best results by sowing in ground that has been manured for a previous crop. The ground should be dug over before sowing the seeds. They should be sown in drills eighteen inches or two feet apart and two inches deep. Care must be taken that they are sown on well-drained land, as they do not like cold, wet soil. Don’t forget about the flowers, although the month of December is a difficult one for them as only the Sunflower can be sown. Narcissus, second batch, may be potted while the cuttings of Verbenas, Violets, Heliotropes and Geraniums may be put in. My final advice is to have a jolly season – transform your green space with red plants such as Radish, Poinsettia and Holly. Till the time we meet again, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a year filled with blossoming success.

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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Better boundaries Valentina Tudose shares four questions to help you set healthy boundaries in your relationship relationships, so often we allow our unconscious beliefs to be formed by negative experiences. For example, if we grew up in a house with parents who argued a lot and eventually divorced, we may have an unconscious belief all relationships ultimately fail and sabotage our own relationships to make sure we don’t get hurt. Writing down a list of positive and negative beliefs about marriage and relationships is a great exercise to determine whether your standards are based on realistic expectations and where you may need some adjustments.

What are my minimum acceptable standards for a successful relationship? All relationships require some fundamental aspects to be present in order to create harmony, love and growth. Among these requirements are trust, honesty, acceptance and communication but you may have some more. Spend some time reflecting on your past relationships and determine what really made you move on and what was missing, as this is a great starting point for those things you will never be able to tolerate moving forward. Once you have the answers to these four questions, focus on determining how you will start enforcing these new rules in your life and watch everything change for the better. Have you ever been in a relationship where you felt like you were losing yourself? Where your own wishes and desires didn’t seem to matter and there was an expectation that everything needed to be shared? This is a phenomenon that affects women more than men, as we are not educated to set clear boundaries and say no to the things we do not want. Boundaries are closely connected to our standards, which are those things we are not willing to tolerate in relationships. They are the bottom line. The minimum acceptable for life to feel balanced and fun. The more you set healthy boundaries with others and with yourself, the higher your selfesteem will be. Here are the four key things you need to know about yourself when learning to set healthy boundaries:

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When starting a new relationship we often unconsciously assume a certain role and we become stuck in the expectations that come with that position. Sometimes it’s a role we enjoy and we consciously choose to fulfil. Other times it’s a mask we wear, which after a while becomes uncomfortable. Getting clarity around your sense of identity with a particular person or group is critical to you being able to establish your boundaries.

What do I really want for myself at this point? When life feels hard, it’s often because we are not fully aligned with what we are meant to be doing. Understanding what is missing and taking steps towards making it happen is a great way to start the process of determining your minimum standards and expanding your life vision.

What are some of my core beliefs in relationships? No one really teaches us how to be in

Valentina Tudose is a relationship coach and founder of Happy Ever After. For more information visit happyeverafter.asia

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