Culture & Leisure

Culture & Leisure

How Chinese treats hungry ghosts

Commonly known as the Chinese Halloween, the Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the 14th of the seventh lunar month. This year, a Chinese community organisation held the third Hungry Ghost Festival exhibition in Victoria Park from 1 to 3 September. Watch the video to know more about the customs and traditions of the festival and visitors' view about the event. Reported by Holly Chik and Michelle Ng Video edited by Angela Cheung    

Culture & Leisure

Different Faces, Same Values

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Chungking Mansions is not only a landmark but also a hub of different cultures with many ethnic minorities. Walking out from Tsim Sha Tsui station, Muhammed Hussain is used to the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Many have East Asian faces, speaking Mandarin or Korean loudly with a draw- bar box in hand. Many of these tourists with money to burn love the emporiums where they can easily find popular designer brands such as Louis Vuitton or Gucci. It’s 12:03pm. Hussain looks down at his watch as he waits for the traffic light to cross busy Nathan Road. In a few hours, white-collar workers and tourists will head to the nearby historic Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea. But neither the Peninsula nor the emporium is Hussain’s destination. Instead, he steps through an inconspicuous building entrance and heads upstairs to his mobile phone shop. Everyday Hussain, a 20 year-old Pakistani man, follows the same routine. He meets 20 to 30 customers a day until he closes his shop at 9 pm. He may go for a late lunch, usually curry and rice, not because he likes it but because it is a common menu in the building. Just like other commercial buildings in the neighborhood, there are many mobile phone shops, money changers and restaurants. But unlike other buildings, restaurants here mainly sell Indian food and most shopkeepers are South Asian and African men. The building’s name is Chungking Mansions, and it’s history is full of mystery and lore to even locals and the tourists who know it for its cheap accommodation. Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the most prosperous districts in Hong Kong, Chungking Mansions has never been seen as a part of Hong Kong, even after being chosen as a landmark …

Society & Politics

Walking in Hong Kong

It says something about the possibility of having a walkable Hong Kong when artificial grass mats, splash pools, picnic tables and benches were placed on what used to be a heavily-congested Des Voeux Road Central in September last year. The government is working with NGOs to turn roads into more pedestrian-friendly and it maysurprise many that the city is currently having seven full-time pedestrian schemes and 30 part-time ones. “Walking can be safe, comfortable and interesting,” said Maura Wong Hung-hung, Chief Executive Officer of the independent public think tank Civic Exchange. “That’s why walking is a pleasure and something that people enjoy, they don’t have to depend on vehicles,” said Wong. The “Walk in Hong Kong” initiative, proposed by the Transport and Housing Bureau, was officially announce in the 2017 Policy Address on January 18. It aims to promote walkability, which is related to connectivity of streets in Hong Kong. Working on pedestrian environment, the initiative will implement multiple new measures based on four themes. According to the Legislative Council Paper, it will provide user-friendly information on walking routes, enhance pedestrian network connection, make walking a pleasant experience and provide a safe and quality pedestrian environment. Civic Exchange introduced a new initiative in December 2016, “Walkability”, to advocate walking in the city. The new initiative also encourages the government and different sectors to take a “people-first” approach in urban planning. For instance, meetings and seminars will be organized to foster citizens’ understanding about the concept of walkability. “Pedestrian should play a priority role in the city’s development, including the transportation strategy,” said Wong. Civic Exchange also introduced the WALKScore in December 2016, a tool to measure walkability in Hong Kong. It takes into consideration the city’s density, mixed-land use, constant traffic, hilly topography and other challenges. From its data, Mongkok …

Culture & Leisure

From Urban Jungle to Toyau

They farm what they eat, make what they use and love what they have.In Sheung Shui Wa Shan Tsuen,several young people have set up Toyau, a place where they can getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, to explore nature. This is where they live and work and learn to get along with one another and with Mother Earth.The inhabitants of Toyau farm, do carpentry, pottery and they draw.“If we have guests, we will get up at 6 a.m. to start the day, for example,by cooking,” said Sum Wing-kiu, 26,

Culture & Leisure

All I Want for Christmas is Food: Delighting Food Tours, Sydney

by Julianna Wu Hanging out in a block that’s full of nice snacks and cuisines in a sunny day, eat whatever you like until you can’t have anymore. This is every foodie’s dream. Especially in a city like Sydney, which has more than 20 different cultures and regions, which means, over 20 different kinds of food and cuisine? In this huge city that’s approximately eleven times bigger than Hong Kong, foodies are luckily enough to have professionals that would lead them through streets and corners to find delicacies, teach them how to eat properly, and most importantly, tell them the stories behind the food and the reason why it exists. Tours led customers through various cultures’ authentic restaurants and foods were started in Sydney a decade ago. Eventually it grows into a popular thing across the city. Now Sydney has up to 17 different organizations offering nearly 100 food tours around the city: ranging from focus tours on wine or chocolate to certain culture’s food. Taste Food Tour is one of the companies that bring customers into the broad Western suburbs of the city for Persian, South-east Asia and other more kinds of foods with a price ranging from 400 to 600 HKD for an adult. The tour of Babylonian Delights - Fairfield for example, includes two sets of meal, two typical snacks stores, one grocery shop of the Persian or Turkish culture as well as a rich explanation of the culture background and how do people make food within a walking distance of the local suburb Fairfield. The tours’ schedule has been set to meet different kinds of customers’ need. Food tours in Chinatown, which is a hot tourism spot, are set during weekdays for the convenience of travelers. While far Western or outer central city food tours are …

Culture & Leisure

Spots of green sprout from Hong Kong’s skyline

What is the price to pay for more greenery? by Cecilia Wong A few young women work conscientiously on their two-feet by three-feet garden, cultivating in-season organic vegetables on a rooftop of a Kwun Tong industrial building. They are surrounded by high rises and green walls, where birdsong play from speakers on top of the 13-storey building. A wide range of vegetables - potatoes, tomatoes, and third plant, is cultivated in rectangular planter boxes. Right at the corner of the same street, a green wall adorns another skyscraper, decorating it with the hues of olive, fern and chartreuse. Hong Kong’s urban landscape has increasingly undergone a rapid greening over the past decade, as architects and developers begin to install roof-top gardens and green walls. Although vertical walls and roof-top gardens are promoted by the government, exact figures are not available. The iconic green wall inside the Hotel ICON in Kowloon is such an example. Research has shown that skyrise greenery reduces temperature by reflecting and absorbing up to 80 per cent of the heat, depending on the amount and type. In particular, research carried out by Dr Sam C. M. Hui, assistant lecturer of Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, shows that vegetated plant covered surfaces can provide a cooler interior environment and regulate the thermal activity of an urban city. “We have never fully utilized our land resources,” Mr Osbert Lam, the founder of City Farm, one of Hong Kong’s few urban farms, said. The skyrise greenery, enhancing vertical density of “plantscaping” over the building façade by covering present unused space with plants, has become substitutions for the lost green spaces during the process of urbanization. Hong Kong’s 40,453 private buildings are mostly not suited for large-scale greening, but in theory, the application of vertical …

Culture & Leisure

Modern paper offerings are breaking traditional stereotypes

Breaking the Traditions: Paper Offerings as Art? by Emily Cheung In every traditional Chinese festival, paper offerings for celebration or the worship of spirits can be seen everywhere. “Paper offerings are not only about funeral affairs. We do paper offerings for the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, and even for Chinese New Year,” said Mr Ha Chung-kin, the traditional paper craftsman. He said there were two factions in the paper offering industry in the past - paper offerings for celebrations and those for funeral purpose. “We cannot make paper offerings for both occasions [at the same time] as people think it is ominous,” he said. “But now, we do everything together, people don’t mind.” The culture of paper offerings is believed to have started with a concept brought along by Confucianism, introduced in the Spring and Autumn period, according to Dr Tam yik-fai, from the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University. “In the ‘Book of Rites’ by Confucius, the master once said that we should respect spiritual beings with containers,” said Tam. “As Confucius starts to distinguish human beings and the spirits as two different existences. The containers for spirits must be different from those we used,” Before that, most Chinese tended to use the same offerings, for example, meat, fruit, or even humans - which they were presenting to a higher hierarchy - the spirits. Although Confucius did not state specifically that we should use paper to make offerings, the plant and common reed that he mentioned is believed to be an early sample of paper offerings. Until modern age, paper offerings have experienced a striking development in different parts of China, with great diversity since their introduction in the Spring and Autumn period. For example, people in Tianjin use joss paper …

Culture & Leisure

Young artists painting their paths

Can art and business go hand in hand? by Jianne Soriano Hong Kong has witnessed a boom in the art industry in recent years, thanks to international fairs like Art Basel, Art Central, and the development of the West Kowloon Culture district, while this may provides opportunities for business. Young artists are not benefiting, says University of Hong Kong student, Elaine Chiu. She has 25 exhibitions under her belt. “[The Hong Kong art industry] is very international and very rarely would Hong Kong organise its own art fairs. I’m not sure if this is a good trend for local artists as we have to appeal to the international market to be successful.” Just this year, Chiu has had her artworks exhibited in France, Italy and Bulgaria. But Chiu believes  that  Hong Kong’s emphasis on commercialising art is a blow to local artists. Compared with her experience in the UK where she sees art as “more public”, the 20-year-old feels that Hong Kong’s art atmosphere “isn’t as strong.” She pointed out that it is difficult to make her artworks seen in the local community because of the lack of funding, opportunities and connections. “Without a gallery representation, you cannot get into the art scene here in Hong Kong. It’s always about money, relationship and connections,” she added. Preconceived beliefs that ‘art can’t feed you’ has been one of the reasons why the art scene in Hong Kong is underdeveloped, according to Nicky Chan, the founder of tgt Gallery. “When we were young, teachers always said ‘Art is a good way to express your emotion’. Yet what they were really implying was ‘Don't do art when you grow up’, he said. Chan’s tgt gallery aims to provide an interactive platform for young local artists to share their creativity and talent. The gallery …

Culture & Leisure

Ancient Art in a Modern City

Handmade ukuleles bring happy sounds to Hong Kong by Tracy Zhang Along the rugged track on Cheung Chau Island, next to the snack and souvenirs stores, ukuleles are among the attractions. Originally from Hawaii, this instrument has become popular among Hong Kong youth in recent years, because it has been featured in romantic movies and soap operas. Located on one of the busiest streets in Cheung Chau island, Benny Cheng’s rock music school is decorated with colorful ukuleles. “People who come to Cheung Chau care more about the fish balls than the handmade ukuleles. Few would stop by and appreciate them,” said Mr Cheng, who founded G.V.S Rock School. He thinks Hong Kong people are often too busy to slow down and pay attention to handmade products. “But the creative and colorful ukuleles hanging here more or less attract some attention,” he added. The art of handcrafted ukeleles 1879 in Portugal. Hand made instruments were  gradually replaced by factory-made products, which are often perfectly polished. “I can always buy a perfect ukulele in Hong Kong, but what I can’t do is to make it with my hands and enjoy the process,” said Evan Binkley, the founder of the brand Fish Ukulele. Mr. Binkley fills his house with unique ukuleles made from moon cake tins, papayas, bamboo and so on. “The way I make ukuleles is different from other people. I have my own style and I want something different,” said Mr Binkley. “Different materials create different tones and sounds, which make them unique,” he said, while playing one made from a papaya that he picked up from the garbage. “The problem is that people cannot make money doing that. A handmade ukulele costs much more money and time than one produced in a factory,” he said. A group of social …