Big Smog Blog
Pop open the champers! Time Out Hong Kong has won its first brace of awards for excellence in journalism. And we're all celebrating here in the city after receiving prizes at the Society of Publishers in Asia Awards ceremony on Thursday June 7 at the JW Marriott Hong Kong for excellence in lifestyle coverage and getting great 'scoops'. Not bad for a Hong Kong magazine which was up against the best in the industry from across Asia.
Our first win was in the 'Excellence in Lifestyle Coverage' category, for issue 89 of the magazine - our Ketamine issue. Our in-depth-look at the ever-spiralling problem of K abuse in Hong Kong won plaudits from the expert panel of judges. And our second award was 'The Scoop Award' for issue 75, our stunning one-on-one interview with controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which was praised by readers across the world last year.
These wins are thanks to an incredible editorial team which has excelled over the past year. We may only be small in number but we're massive when it comes to content, design, enthusiasm and raw talent. So celebrate with us after a truly exceptional year! Who said great reporting in Hong Kong was only about finance?
A record number of people mourned together on Monday night in Victoria Park for those who died in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Byron Tseng was there to shed a tear…
It’s breathtaking. A sea of candles light up Victoria Park. Slogans and chants like ‘CY Leung is two-faced’, ‘down with the Communist Government’ and ‘democracy in China now’ ring around the venue. This year there’s a record turnout of 180,000 people in the park commemorating those who were killed in Tianenmen Square. It’s an amazing sight. And, with human rights in China and unease about the incoming Hong Kong Chief Executive on many people’s minds, feelings are high.
I don’t know why I haven’t been to this annual event before. I’m of Chinese descent and this event should have a special place in my heart – just like every other person in Hong Kong who was alive as the atrocious events of June 4, 1989, unfolded. We’re the ones who should learn from what happened.
We navigate ourselves through wave after wave of people who don black shirts and hold their candles aloft so we can find a place to sit. We hold up our candles to the patriotic songs and mottos harangued by the Democratic cheerleaders. I hold up my candle, which is resting on top a paper cup and suddenly my arm feels hot. I’ve set the cup on fire, turning my candle into a violent torch spitting embers. It’s fitting, the burning wax reminding me of the sudden chaos which erupted on that fateful day in China’s history. (However, I would recommend future vigil attendees to exercise caution with your candle!) Nevertheless, it was a privilege to engage in an activity our cousins in China would dare not do.Although we’re sure many would want to, if only they had the chance.
In the two-decade long series of vigils since Tianenmen Square, this one is blessed with a special guest star in the form of Fang Zheng. Fang is most notable for being the activist whose legs were run over by a tank during the massacre. It seems somewhat ironic that Fang, a student at the Beijing Institute of Physical Education, would have had an athletic prowess many at Tiananmen would have lacked. His act of saving a fellow protester from a column of tanks, only to be critically wounded himself, never halted his psychological struggle and healthy attitude. Fang informs us that he never truly believed the People’s Liberation Army would attack him and his comrades.
He recounts how, after the incident, he feels that the Communist Government and the ironically named People’s Liberation Army can no longer adequately represent the people. We are blessed with Fang’s appearance and his strong oratory prowess. However, two days later, he flies back to the USA and will probably never return to Hong Kong or China. This year, we hear, Hong Kong immigration overlooked him due to his relatively low profile, so next time the red tape will bound him in exile. Another twist of irony is that while America can provide activists like Fang Zheng and Chen Guangcheng ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’, the USA also deprives them of the only thing they ever really cared for: ‘the right to protest within China’.
So, it was a remarkable sight and an honour to be part of the vigil. I implore all Hongkongers to attend future vigils or visit the June 4 museum in Sham Shui Po. We don’t know when China will carry out serious reforms. Some make an argument that China was more liberal in the early 1980s with the Democracy Wall in Beijing. In the meantime we should all be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy in Hong Kong. For all we know those freedoms may all expire in 2047…
The Italian Chamber of Commerce has planned a delicious line-up of events this summer for its Italy 2012: Quality & Lifestyle promotion. A particular highlight for foodies is ‘A Tavola!’ (or, for the non-Italian speakers, ‘come to the table!’), which returns by popular demand as the festival’s primary food promo during June. The theme is simple: top-notch chefs from 16 participating restaurants each craft a special, authentic menu with dishes honouring the local flavours of a specific Italian region. Essentially, you’ll get to taste your way around Italy without leaving Hong Kong. Delizioso.
Participating restaurants include Domani (representing Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Gaia (Lazio), Osteria (Sicily), Joia (Emilia-Romagna) and The Mistral (Umbria), among 11 other outlets. To further entice diners, a chance to win an Italian getaway to Verona is also up for grabs. Just spend a minimum of $250 at any participating restaurant and you’ll receive a stamp on one of A Tavola’s promotional postcards (available at the Italian Chamber of Commerce and participating restaurants). Fill in the rest of the postcards and you’ll be eligible to win. Eat to your heart’s content as the more places you try, the more opportunities you’ll have to be Italy-bound.
Promotional materials can be found at select venues throughout Hong Kong. You can also check out the Italian Chamber of Commerce website at www.icc.org.hk for more details. Chow! Um, we mean ciao!
KITEC Sat May 26-Sun May 27
Masters and yogis from around the world ‘bent it like Beckham’ on May 26 and May 27 as they warrior posed for the first-ever Hong Kong International Yoga Gala. With workshops geared towards skill building and competitions – with prizes worth thousands of dollars – it was a jam-packed two days at KITEC. Masters showed off their moves at the opening ceremony, which included some serious pretzel-like action as they twisted their bodies into the shape of the salty snack. Spectators looked on with awe. The competitors also flaunted their yoga skills, chanted and took part in vinyasa contests.
Participants not vying for top honours weren’t left out of the programme either. We were treated to a wide range of classes – from breathing exercises to the power of transformation. There was something on offer for every yoga enthusiast. The programme was organised by the Hong Kong Yoga Association and was conducted in Cantonese and English. Oh, and we signed off with the customary salutation… namaste. Of course.
Bisous Thu May 17
Happy Birthday Baby! Cabaret-inspired nightclub Bisous celebrated its first birthday on Thursday May 17 with a classy bash that drew in loyal regulars and a few celebrity faces. Champagne bottles were being popped by the second and silver platters of 1968 Indonesian-cum-Asian-fusion nibbles were passed around to staunch the alcoholic flow. Former Cookies member Angela Au dropped by as well as singer/actor Terence Yin (who celebrated the launch of his latest album at Bisous), Grace Huang, Carl Ng, Desmond So and model/food blogger Janice Jann. Regular performances from the Bisous Follie Ladies kept crowds entertained with a new Alice in Wonderland-themed dance.
As the very first female-owned club of its kind in Hong Kong, Bisous has had a memorable year, hosting all kinds of events and artists from across the globe. Will.I.Am. Hong Kong Social Media Week. Yuto Miyazawa (if you haven't heard/seen the twelve year old's awe-inspiring rock guitar skills − go to Youtube now). Mr Gay Hong Kong. Les Fleurs Sauvage. And they keep on coming. Up next is the Madonna MDNA Club Tour party on Sat Jun 9 and Web Wednesday’s The Battle of the Apps competition on the Wed May 30. Here's to another year!
Lychee Sung Bale
The first “vertical flow” gallery in Hong Kong, AO Art Vertical’s debut exhibition “Liu Heung Shing’s Portrait of China, as seen by Chinese Photographers” is an impressive collection of images. The exhibition is a series of photographs recording a history of China through the eyes of various photographers, curated by Liu Heung Shing. The space is interesting, perhaps one of the most innovative uses of gallery spaces seen in Hong Kong for a while, redefining the space between the viewer and artwork, whilst giving the series an even more pronounced linear narrative. From the 13/F to the 3/F the walls down a spiraling staircase are lined with images, with the ones at the top floor being the oldest and continuing chronologically down to the 3/F. This gives the move through the exhibition a journey, a travelling through time through images that seem familiar yet unfamiliar. The reasons the photographs seem like something ‘seen before’ is that they include imagery of the Communist Revolution that is almost iconic, the laughing face of Mao, the lines of girls in the Red Army, the children painted for a traditional Opera performance. Yet they are new, and every now and then a photograph catches you by surprise with its sheer historical relevance. Perhaps one of the most eye-catching examples is a photograph of a group of old women, holding portraits of them when they were young and in the Red Army. An interesting take on a quick look at China through time, AO Art Vertical’s exhibition is a little out of the way, but worth the visit.
From 18th May to 29th July
3-13/F, Asia One Tower, 8 Fung Yip St., Chai Wan, Hong Kong
Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm. Closed on Public Holiday
Yes, the Beach Boys long-mooted 50th Anniversary Tour is headed to Hong Kong. For the first time in 20 years, the classic lineup of Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks are getting together to take the classic tunes on the road. They kicked off the tour in Tucson, Arizona, with a mammoth 42-song gig. The only thing that could possibly better than would be if John Stamos were coming…
The Beach Boys Live in Hong Kong
August 25, HKCEC
Tickets: www.hkticketing.com; 3128 8288.
Play Thursday May 10
Paul Van Dyk brought the party to Play Club. Hard. Playing to a packed house of admirers, his signature electronic beats and unique blends were received to cameras flashing, fists pumping and bodies moving. Fresh off the back of his long-anticipated new album, Evolution, he had a wide range of material both old and new plus a few tricks up his sleeve to keep the crowd grooving until the wee hours of the night, showing everyone why he’s dominated DJ Mag’s Top 100 list year on year (on year).
Play Thursday May 3
The energy was as high as the ladies’ heels when Hed Kandi returned to Hong Kong. DJ Krystal Roxx, with her signature blonde hair and electro style, landed at Play Club on Thursday May 3. This globetrotting UK sensation hosts some of the hottest events and she certainly knows how to work a room. A little Rihanna got the party started and funky beats continued to a growing crowd of Hong Kong’s most fashionable as the night progressed. Keeping people on the dance floor until late, it was a perfect Thursday night treat and served as a great way to kick-start the weekend.
In a city where smart phones are everywhere, it seems outdated that horseracing still requires manually filling-in complicated tickets that, quite frankly, lots of people really knows how to use. Especially, that is, the younger generation.
It’s with that in mind that Happy Valley Racecourse’s Adrenaline bar has refurbished and sexed itself up, installing some new interactive gaming system – the IBU Zone (‘Interactive Best For U’) – that makes it easy for the iPhone/Android generation to get into the most popular spectator sport in Hong Kong.
It’s a clear attempt by the Jockey Club to revive the old sport of racing. Concerned by some research they’d conducted that racing is typically seen as an old man’s activity (with crumpled newspaper and cigarette in hand), the IBU Zone is specifically targeted to lure in some hip, cool youngsters.
Adrenaline now sports two of the world’s largest multi-touch racing entertainment tables (much like a giant tablet) that displays racing information in a user-friendly way with simplified odds and trends. Simply click and drag the horse number out where it will expand to a photo and more info where you can read up for the horse and its jockey. There’s videos, tips, past info as well as all important jockey colours (yeah, we know how your betting mind works).
Admission to adrenaline is $290 inc one cocktail and tapas buffet. Get a free $100 JTap card until July 11. Click here to register.