Tuesday, 28 February 2012


童年夢想 = tung nihn mung seung: childhood dream

公園 (gung yuen: public park) as wonderland.

Click to enlarge.

Use your imagination.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Reinventing the wheel

Unconventional cycles created by local artists, now showing in Tsim Sha Tsui:

Sleepwalker, by Kacey Wong
A somnambulant recumbent at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre in Kowloon Park, complete with vaguely Hitchcock-esque video of said vehicle in use along the footpaths of the Peak at night. Part of Tri-ciprocal Cities, the 3rd Hong Kong-Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (until 23 April 12). Exhibition visitors will never look at bunk beds in the same way again.

Garden Bike, by Gareth Dunster
An arboresque velocipede at the so-called K11 'Art Mall' basement exhibition space (inside Tsim Sha Tsui MTR  pedestrian subways near Exit N).  Part of The Big Ride, an exhibition by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, showcasing pieces that were actually used during the December event of the same name. This particular bicycle was apparently 'inspired by the artist's dangerous and unpleasant experiences of cycling on Hong Kong roads during rush hour.' I can see where he's coming from, though whether he can see where he's going is another matter. Exhibition also features Musical Instrument Bike, Venice Carnival Bike, Gigantic Spider Bike etc. (Until 18 March 12.)

More pedal-powered transportation - click here.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Friday, 24 February 2012


華豐大廈 = wah fung daaih hah: New Lucky House (literally, prosperous China/splendid prosperous building)

I was reminded by a post by ilbonito that I had recently taken some pictures of this, as he calls it, 'Hong Kong classic' in Jordan.

Inside ...

 ... out

Read about the fate of such buildings.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Monday, 20 February 2012


屎坑 = si haang: latrine (literally, dung pit)

In my photo page for Time Out HK, I collect a set of photos on a certain theme every fortnight. Recently, I was doing the theme 'abandoned chairs' (scroll down to the bottom of this post). As a result of this I am developing a rather obsessive habit of photographing same thing, in different places, wherever I go like a kind of mental scrapbook. Hence this post...

Enough excuses. Today, various 'rustic' toilets. Sanitation? Who needs that?

Au naturel, at a rain shelter near Fei Ngo Shan:

Natural drainage system, Tai O  (don't fish here):

Fertilizing the garden, also Tai O:

Modern plumbing, near Sha Tin:

There are also 'official', government-provided latrine toilets, in some country parks and islands. There is a remarkable one at Tung Lung Chau Campsite if you are brave enough.

Why toilets and chopstics shouldn't mix.

As mentioned above, for this fortnight's Time Out feature I collected pictures of abandoned chairs. Click to enlarge.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Re-finding my faith in fondue

In my ongoing quest for cheese in Hong Kong, I occasionally, well okay, regularly, experience cravings for cheese-based cuisines. My former home, prior to Hong Kong, was Grenoble in the heart of the French Alps. Grenoble has its fair share of fondue restaurants, which I often found reason to visit. As my departure approached, I prepared myself for a long fondue fast.

In fact, it has not been so hard. The hot summer weather in Hong Kong is not propitious to fondue-eating, so for at least 9 months of the year, my fondue-related yearnings are put on the back burner. However, whenever I hear of a fondue restaurant in this city, I must say I can't get the idea out of my head. As a result I have sampled three different fondues in Hong Kong so far. I list them here in reverse order of tastiness.

一. The first fondue doesn't get a picture. It was hardly worthy of the name. I ordered it in the Spaghetti House two years ago. It was my second and last visit to that restaurant chain, and I was lured in by the gigantic posters in the MTR showing a pot of melting cheese. Said pot was surrounded by distinctly un-fondue-like accompaniments such as scallops, Chinese mushrooms and (probably) abalone. I'm not sure why alarm bells didn't ring at that point. Indeed, the 'cheese', if I could call it that, was a pallid concoction rather like the cheap instant cream sauce you get on cha chaan teng pasta bakes with possibly a handful of ready-grated emmental thrown in. The pot was heated with a tealight and was most likely intended to be an ornament; I still doubt it was food-worthy. I also remember there not being any bread (you were meant to dip the scallops in). After this depressing experience, I concluded that a fondue in Hong Kong was an oxymoron.

二. Over a year passed between that and my next fondue experience, which was at Classified, and is pictured here. 

Thankfully, this was a far more reassuring one. Not an entirely convincing fondue, mind you, and certainly more about style than substance. I don't suppose any self-respecting resident of the Alps would deign to dip a chunk of granny smith into their fondue, for instance, but if my benchmark was not the 'real thing' from Grenoble then I would probably have been fairly satisfied. The cheese mixture could have been more pungent, but at least it was genuine (and I would expect no less from a shop claiming to specialise in cheese.) We did run out of bread but they eventually brought us some more when we asked (although it was their ordinary table bread and not the thicker dried chunks more suited to soaking up cheese). As far as fondues go, you could say that this one was inspired by Switzerland with Hong Kong in mind, i.e. it can be eaten outdoors on a warm night without breaking into a sweat.

三. The third and final fondue was last night, at the Swiss Chalet in TST, and it was by far the best.

Pictured here is the basic fondue on their menu.  This place didn't faff around with seafood or apples for dipping, they just brought a big plate of slightly dry baguette and refilled it spontaneously when we ran out. The pot, as you can see, was cast iron and sensible. And the taste... good! True Gruyere and white wine and unashamedly smelly (we arrived early but a whiff of cheese was already hanging in the air, as in all real fondue restaurants). My friend spotted a flaw in the kitsch Swiss decor - a wooden Scottish shortbread mould with a thistle emblem mounted on the wall - but apart from that, the experience was the most authentic fondue I have had so far in HK.

My faith in fondue has therefore been restored and I intend to return to this particular establishment to sample their other fondue offerings. If you have any fondue/raclette restaurant recommendations, I would be happy to hear them!

Read about a less fruitful quest for cheese.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Friday, 17 February 2012

新光戲院 Goodbye Sunbeam

The curtains are closing for the Sunbeam Theatre (新光戲院) in North Point on Sunday.

The iconic Chinese opera venue has been in operation for 40 years and is unique in Hong Kong. It had fantastic atmosphere, with its loyal, ageing clientele wandering in and out at random times during the show, standing up and clapping spontaneously at a particularly well-executed snippet, and generally gossiping and making a noise throughout. 

The great thing about it for me was that you could go in with a camera and snap away without disturbing anyone or getting told off, which is not the case in the more sanitised government venues which will accommodate touring and local opera troupes from now on.

I tried to get tickets for a show with this weekend, but unsurprisingly...

The reason for the closure? Soaring rent prices. The future of the venue? I don't even want to say it. The answer's here. 

The SCMP did report today that there is hope that the theatre might be rescued with the help a donation from an arts benefactor. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping with all my heart, but I was more optimistic about culture in Hong Kong last week.

Read about the closure in detail in Time Out HK.

UPDATE 19/2 : A last-minute tenancy agreement yesterday with a theatre troupe will keep the theatre open for another four years; that is, until 2016, when a new Chinese arts venue is due to open in West Kowloon... coincidence? In any case, happy news for now!

All content © Emilie Pavey

Monday, 13 February 2012

Roped in

In the park, there are various cheap and simple ways to keep fit.
For example, with a skipping rope:

Or with the hose from your vacuum cleaner:

Exercise for the mind in the park.
All content © Emilie Pavey

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Cultural revolution?

In December's issue of National Geographic, Hong Kong was ranked fifth in a feature on the world's most influential cities (behind a very western-centric group of places: New York, London, Paris, and another city I can't remember).

This ranking was awarded based on five factors: information exchange, political engagement, human capital, business activity and cultural experience. Nat Geo unsurprisingly gave Hong Kong a high score in the 'business activity' category, whereas the city scored fairly low in the cultural stakes. I think this assessment is a little unfair - although Paris, New York and London have plenty of big-name arts venues, culture is alive and well in Hong Kong. If Nat Geo's researchers had only come down to street level, they might have though differently.

Here are a couple of local/spontaneous cultural happenings I stumbled upon recently:

Contemporary dance performance, Quarry Bay park

Street theatre, Central (at 'Occupy Central', December 2011)

Another HK art event.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A burning issue

I've always felt that Pui O and Cheung Sha beaches on Lantau Island are secrets worth keeping. By being the most pristine and scenic of the HK government beaches, they are by far my favourite summer swimming spots. Plus, they never get very crowded and they are home to water buffalo, cattle egrets, and all sorts of other wonderful flora and fauna. Look how beautiful Pui O is:

Perhaps Lantau's coastline is just a little too secret, however, as the Hong Kong government feels it can get away with building a 'super incinerator' as a 'solution' to Hong Kong's serious waste problem on a small island just a few miles out from this spot, despite having designated the entire Lantau area as one for 'conservation and recreation uses'.

If you too feel that this is ecological insanity and that there must be another solution, please go to the Living Islands Movement site and sign the petition there. Or it might just be that in six year's time, this horizon will be broken by a huge chimney and these fluffy clouds will be made from the remains of your polystyrene takeaway box instead of water vapour.

Pui O's lovely cattle!

Destroying seabed ecosystems.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bl**dy brilliant!

Before you move in to your new flat in this building:

You can use this service:

And once you're settled, you can  get these guys to do the catering for your housewarming party:
You deserve nothing less!

More boastful property names.

All content © Emilie Pavey

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Airing your dirty laundry in public

Or: lonely pants.

Pants and sausages on the same washing line.

A new issue of Time Out HK is out. In this fortnight's 'Hidden Hong Kong', see my pictures of retro tiles, two white pigeons and some mystery mock-Gothic architecture. Here's a peek:

All content © Emilie Pavey

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ode to the grindstone

Hong Kong's abandoned villages allow visitors a more poignant glimpse into life in the past than any heritage museum. Here are two obsolete grindstones (near Kam Tin and Tai O) that must have been the starting point for many bygone cakes and buns.

They are now all out of flour power (apologies).

Another feature of abandoned villages.

All content © Emilie Pavey