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.





Hong Kong hidden places #2

27 03 2017

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Sam’s vinyl museum, on the 12th floor of Causeway Bay’s  Nam Hing Fong building is a small, windowless room housing a plush collection of rare and expensive vinyl records, entered only on condition of sitting through a “lecture” on their history and worth from their excitable owner.





Hong Kong hidden places #3

27 03 2017

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Hidden behind this tiny door in Pok Fu Lam village, opposite the bus stop on Pok Fu Lam Road, is perhaps Hong Kong’s smallest dim sum joint. I’ve never been inside – it seems to be open on weekday afternoons when I’m at work, but one day….





At The Instagram Pier

19 03 2017

A friend was leaving town this weekend, and hosted her “adieu Hong Kong” bash at the ‘Instagram Pier’, a cargo loading bay that has become a de facto public park in cramped Hong Kong. Located along the Kennedy Town waterfront, it was known for many years as a gathering spot for Hokkien-speaking seniors to play mahjong and listen to Chinese opera ( there was some there this weekend) as well as a premium spot for thrill-seekers to watch typhoon waves during the Summer storms. Recently, it has been adopted by hipsters and those seeking the perfect Hong Kong harbour sunset pic (hence the name).

Arriving on a cold and drizzly Saturday night, we walked past vast piles of bamboo poles, ready to be hauled across town for construction projects, by the lines of bobbing tugboats in the dark sea and into the shelter afforded by a little cargo hut. People were walking dogs with neon-glowing collars, cruising past on bikes or skateboards, someone was flying a drone. A woman in a red dress was doing a photo-shoot and some girls were shooting a semi-professional-looking music video while a large group of young Japanese lay on tatami mats, having a picnic.

The highlight though was an impromptu serenade by a string quartet, playing atop a grafittied cargo crate. They popped up, played beautifully and then melted away again into the night…

 





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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Bana Hills

7 02 2017

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Less than an hour from the Danang Beaches lies the starkly different – and noticeably cooler – Bana Hills, a fantasy resort made up of a fake French village, located atop a mountain. The resort is reached via the world’s longest cable car which glides up over spectacular jungle scenes – rushing mountain streams, enormous ferns and towering Tarzan-like rainforest trees, before entering the clouds and mists near the mountain’s summit.

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The “village” itself is mainly home to mediocre restaurants and shoving crowds of Vietnamese tourists, but the sheer scale and slickness of the operation came as a surprise to me (what else did Vietnam have up its sleeve?!), the beauty of the ride up is undeniable and the faux-Alpine village, wreathed in mist, is pleasingly surreal.

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Heaven…and hell.

7 02 2017

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An Gia was our favourite restaurant of the trip, a beautifully furnished traditional home turned Thonglor-style hipster restaurant, serving delicious local food in a leafy courtyard, complete with dogs, kitschy-tasteful ornaments and lovely ceramics. We ate there three times.

This little piece of heaven is located, incongruously, by a dystopian stretch of beach ten minutes from our hotel. Here, the coastline sand had been almost all eroded away, with walls of sandbags left to try and retain what little was left, and shorefront hotels and shops looking forlorn and trashed. It is worth seeing in itself as a metaphor for the things we are doing to our planet – I couldn’t help wondering if sand extraction for cement used in tourism developments had spurred the carnage?

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