Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Bathroom of the behemoths

There are over 300 buildings built by the Chinachem Group in Hong Kong, most notorious among which are the Lily in Repulse Bay (the one that looks like a giant urinal) and the Nina Tower in Tsuen Wan (vague resemblance to a humungous electric beard trimmer). However, Nina Wang's company also owns plenty of less flashy edifices, and I have noticed that a few of these are adorned with a mysterious symbol:

Quarry Bay


To me, it looks like a bottle of cologne sprouting monster teeth... perfectly in keeping with Chinachem's big bathroom architectural style.

Saturday, 28 May 2011


遠東= jyun dung: the Far East

and its more PC equivalent:

東亞= dung aa: East Asia

Now for a couple of anachronisms:



Far from what?

Monday, 23 May 2011

On the edge

Sticking with the 'unexpected' theme.
Unlikely places for:

 a) a phonecall 

 b) a cigarette

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Why hello, kitty

Today's subject: 'ginger moggies where you'd least expect them.'

Bonnet of a classic car, Kam Tin

Counter of a snake soup restaurant, Sham Shui Po

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Rubbing it in

Remember doing rubbings as a kid? Tree bark, leaves, or pennies, equipped with a pencil or wax crayon? Well, in the Hong Kong museum world, the art of rubbing is institutionalised, and it's quite common to arrive at a pedagogical 'now it's your turn' room at the end of the exhibit, which you'll see is not just for the little ones!

Here are some textures I tried my hand at recently, ranging from the first to the twenty-first century:

Memories of King Kowloon exhibition
ArtisTree, Taikoo place, until 31 May
- Very complete retrospective of an idiosyncratic and legendary HK street artist, highly recommended.

Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum
Cheung Sha Wan, permanent
- 2000-year-old tomb, the oldest piece of architecture you can see in Hong Kong (if I am not mistaken).

You can also go to Hong Kong Museum of Art for more hands-on rubbing fun. Its pemanent display also has paper-embossing devices if you want to take your textural kicks to the next level.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Behold the cow

The SCMP reported this week on a botched attempt to remove three water buffalo from Mui Wo, Lantau Island. The buffalo are considered to be a danger after a man was injured by one in March. Residents are divided over the issue, with buffalo supporters arguing that there is plenty of space and that since the buffalo are wetland animals, the marshlands around Mui Wo are an ideal environment for them.

Different varieties of feral cattle of can be seen all over rural Hong Kong, from Lantau to Sai Kung and as far as Tap Mun. In my experience, never have these lovely animals felt threatning; they seem to lead their lives very peacefully alongside the local people. To me, the countryside would not be the same without them. See what you think:

More water buffalo - at Pui O

Leading a cow's life by the sea in Sai Kung

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Through a door

輕鬆 = hing sung: relaxed; relaxing

Fishermen in a floating house in Aberdeen

Tram drivers' canteen in North Point

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Ever wondered why you have amazing network coverage all over HK, even in the more remote villages? Here's the answer:

Pui O

Indeed, renting out your roof to telecommunications companies appears to be big business in the New Territories and outlying islands.
near Tai Mei Tuk

A few stand firm and prefer to remain unreceptive (and presumably, tumour-free):

The poster says: The residents of Luk Keng village are unanimously opposed to the construction of a mobile phone mast.

Another form of protection.

For the month of May, I am the Hong Kong contributor for Pen & Image, an online art magazine project: an art response to a different randomly generated word every 24 hours by 4 contributors around the world. Go and see!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

P words

Sadly, good Chinglish is not as common as you might think in Hong Kong, unlike in mainland China, but here are two rare gems.

All ingredients freshly laundered at Family Kitchen. I'll take number 32 please.

X-rated property in Pui O.

However, my outright favourite was a laminated sign in Manly Plaza, Quarry Bay, which was sadly taken down before I was able to photograph it. It read: 

no soiletting

Definition, anyone?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Basket head

The basket-hat is the ultimate unisex net-making, knot-tying, sea-faring accessory.

I've tried one of these heavy-brimmed things on - it's quite a balancing act to keep the small domed bit on the crown of the head.

I'm sure this lady has attached her own bit of elastic to stop it from plopping into the water.
For more only-in-Hong-Kong hats, click here.

 Land of no cheese has reached dizzing heights of fame! I have been interviewed by blogexpat.com, read my interview here. There are lots of other interesting expat stories there too.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Food for free

Beaches can be sources of gastronomic delights, if you know where and what to look for.

Cockles aplenty at Pui O...

And a good crop of seaweed at Tung Lung Chau.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Small world

Today was the last day of a lego exhibition at Cityplaza, Taikoo Shing. The detailed and entertaining lego models featured world landmarks, fantasy scenes and tourist attractions in Hong Kong. Here, for instance, is the ten-thousand Buddhas temple in lego:

Compare with the original:

Incidentally, at the ten-thousand Buddhas temple you can also see non-buddhist Chinese shrines, such as this one featuring a larger-than life Guan Yu statue:

and here is his lego counterpart at the exhibition (part of a special Three Kingdoms set):

Just as red in the face, and almost as fearsome!

Who is Guan Yu, you ask?

More small Hong Kong.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Seeing red

If you ever wander though the older districts of the city, you may have spotted large white-on-red lettering posted in windows or on banners across shop fronts and buildings.


I have started noticing more and more of these in my neighbourhood over the past few months. The red phone numbers seem to be creeping across the facades of tong lau (old walk-up) buildings like a fungus. Some of the signs sport a big, cog-shaped logo too.

Unfortunately, it's not the rotary club. It is the doing of 田生地產 (Richfield Realty), an acquisition company. These companies buy up flats in old HK buildings in order to eventually sell the building to property developers. In buildings over 50 years old, if a company buys up 80% of the flats, the remaining 20% of the building's homeowners can be forced to sell by law. This explains the spread of red.

Branch office in Quarry Bay

田生地產's prominent advertising is upsetting a lot of people. The proliferation of large signs can make residents uneasy about the security of their homes and put pressure on owners to sell. They can also scare off potential buyers by giving the impression that the building is 'doomed'.

Slogans, like the one on this banner in Shau Kei Wan contribute to this atmosphere: Richfield congratulates the landlords of this building who have already received the payment for their flat.

田生地產 has been accused of more underhand pressure tactics, too, as Christopher DeWolf describes in this article. I won't go into these here; suffice it to say that company denies the claims and explains on its website that its ultimate goal is to serve the community.

To me, these red flags are yet another sign of  the frantic pace of Hong Kong's urban renewal.