Hong Kong hidden places #1: Mum’s not home

27 03 2017

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Mum’s Not Home is one of my new favorite Hong Kong hangouts. We first noticed it as a neon light shining in the window of an old Yau ma Tei tenement building, and then climbed up the chipped stairs to find a painted door.

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Ringing the bell, we were ushered into a room filled with ferns, racks of colourful clothes on sale, artworks, a papier mache monkey’s head and an oversized menu of sweet drinks and cakes. Avant garde French electro was playing and a saffron-haired HK hipster was taking pictures with his boyfriend against the lush greenery, while a middle-aged woman scooped up rubber dinosaurs on sale.

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I immediately fell in love.





Two days, two nights

27 03 2017

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Friday night- the premiere of the new Hong Kong movie “Mad World”, starring former model Shawn Yue as a recovering psychiatric patient battling prejudice as well as his own demons. The director and writer were in attendance.

Saturday night – A delicious Thai dinner at Chachawan, complete with the dessert of the gods, khanom dtom or glutinous rice balls in warm, salted coconut milk.

Sunday – a Japanese property show in the gaudy 1980s Sheraton hotel, sweet potato French fries at Floom Floom, a cafe tucked on the eighth floor of a Tsim Sha Tsui block decorated with artwork by illustrator Shibata Keiko, and then a dinner of sesame fried turnip cakes among the pimps and hookers at Kung Fu Dim Sum on Portland Street.





Cavemen and Kristen Stewart

27 03 2017

My twin obsessions this week, oddly, were Kristen Stewart in the strangely luminous “Clouds of Sils-Maria” and prehistoric man, courtesy of the surprise hit book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.”

My curiosity for Olivier Assayas’s “Clouds of…” was piqued by the rave reviews for his upcoming “Personal Shopper” (for which I had snagged tickets at the Hong Kong International Film Festival) and which also starred his (rather unlikely) new muse, Kristen Stewart.

The formerly much-derided Twilight star has been amassing accolades. I have seen her variously described as “the greatest actress of her generation” and “a star for our times.” I didn’t get it. What was the buzz about? But halfway through this movie, which I had originally found slight and rather dull before it totally sucked me in, I twigged. Stewart is a naturalistic actress par excellence. She doesn’t look like she is acting. So at first I took her for granted – where were the virtuoso emoting I associated with “great acting”? Where was the transformation?  She looked like she always does, shaggy dark hair, stumbling over her words, willowy frame in clothed in grungy lesbian-chic. But then I realised that despite that, this character isn’t HER. She is a multimillionaire, not Julian Binoche’s ambitious assistant in the Alps, and the fact that I had forgotten that shows what a great performance it was.

“Sapiens” was also something of a revelation. The book, by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, traces humanity from its origins to the present day. Powerfully written, Yuval kicks off with the sensational reminder that although today there is only one human species, used to thinking of itself as the pinnacle of all evolution, we know that once we shared the world with at least six other human “species” – the homo erectus and Cave of the Red Deer people in China, the dwarf-like homo floresiensis of Nusa Tenggara, the Denisovans in Sibeia. the neaderthals in Europe…. The book claims that humanity’s “original sin” was perhaps the genocide of our brothers and sisters, leaving us alone as the sole surviving humans on the planet.

 





Sound of Southeast Asia

27 03 2017

 

The other night, while running laps at a balmy Happy Valley, I heard a rustling in the frangipani trees and then one of my favourite sounds, the call of the koel bird, heard all over the Southeast Asian tropics. Warm weather is back!





Aguas de Marco

13 03 2017

Its March, and the humidity is back: the Waters of March indeed. While playing this song for my boyfriend I discovered, for the first time, the English lyrics – a masterpiece of stream of consciousness poetry in themselves, even without the jaunty tune:

A stick, a stone,
It’s the end of the road,
It’s the rest of a stump,
It’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass,
It is life, it’s the sun,
It is night, it is death,
It’s a trap, it’s a gun
The oak when it blooms,
A fox in the brush,
A knot in the wood,
The song of a thrush
The wood of the wind,
A cliff, a fall,
A scratch, a lump,
It is nothing at all
It’s the wind blowing free,
It’s the end of the slope,
It’s a beam, it’s a void,
It’s a hunch, it’s a hope
And the river bank talks
of the waters of March,
It’s the end of the strain,
The joy in your heart
The foot, the ground,
The flesh and the bone,
The beat of the road,
A slingshot’s stone
A fish, a flash,
A silvery glow,
A fight, a bet,
The range of a bow
The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay

 

 





Hong Kong weekend

13 03 2017

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It was a full weekend this week, starting with a dinner at the North Point cooked food market at Tung Po, a famed local cafeteria with dozens of tables under fluorescent strip lighting, rowdy groups singing and cheering, succulent garlic-chicken and rockstar-like head chef Robbie ( sadly not in evidence on the night we went). Its a true only-in-Hong Kong experience. Afterwards our group of  Swiss, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Aussies and Brazilians had planned  to try out a new bar called Visage 1 which is apparently a barber by day and jazz bar by day, but failing to find it we sat outside in the muggy evening outside a French restaurant drinking white beer and talking into the night.

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The next day, after a late start and a less-than-satisfying lunch at local fast food joint Fairwood, we headed into the throng of Mongkok for record shopping, digging through the crates of vinyl at at the Sino Centre, a nondescript-looking building filled with otaku stores selling toys, comics and old CDs, and the President Centre (aka Thai voodoo mall). We were slowed down considerably by a long Taoist parade unexpectedly closing down much of Nathan Road.

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After this we took the train to Shatin to meet up with friends and visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin, currently hosting an exhibition of artwork inspired by the work of Chinese author Jin Yong (Louis Cha) whose works such as “Tale of the Eagle-hunting heroes” have thrilled generations across the Chinese-speaking world.

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Finally,  a great homecooked meal with friends and a quick listen to the Sound of Music on vinyl before it was time for bed, and a brand new week.

 

 

 





Jazz Night at Salon 10

13 03 2017

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Salon 10 is a bar unlike many others in Hong Kong. It is certainly chic, but also eccentric; not many places could pull off its Henri Rousseau-meets-ET wall mural and Stanley Kubrick-like curved lines. With plush wall banquettes, midcentury furnishings and a rounded ceiling, it feels a little bit like being in a groovy tunnel. Recently, I discovered that the bar is hosting a series of midweek jazz and Latin concerts with free entry, so we decided to go last week and check it out. It was a fun night.

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