Jakie Chan

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 …

Culture & Leisure

Art in the City

A set of sculptures recently sparked calls of panic. Does Hong Kong appreciate public art? By Emily Cheung When the public art installation “Event Horizon Hong Kong” , first went on display on a rooftop in Central in November, 2015, people mistook the sculpture of a life-sized naked man as a suicide suspect and called the police. “I spotted it a long time ago. But to be honest, I don’t know why it has to be there,” said Ms Chu Tze-yan, who works nearby. The controversial art project featured 31 fiberglass sculptures by artist, Antony Gormley. The figures stand on streets or rooftops across the city. “The idea was to underline the relationship between human and space,” says Mr Gormley. “Public art allows free thinking and the community may not feel comfortable with sculptures like that at first,” said Antony J. Chan, the British Council’s Head of Art and Creative Industries, who organized  “Event Horizon Hong Kong” . Mr Chan believes that the police calls that resulted from his artwork show a lack of understanding of public art. But Hong Kong is no stranger to public art .  In early 1999, the  government launched  a Public Art Scheme to boost creativity and to bring artistic elements to the public. Since then, more than 20 sets of public art pieces have been on display. What is regarded by some as sophisticated public art, such as Mr Gormley’s naked men, is seldom appreciated. Instead, many seem to think that art should be decorative rather than artistic expression. “I don’t see the need to  understand those artwork thoroughly. It is fine a long as they  make the place more beautiful and visually attractive ,” said Travis Mackenzie, a tourist from Washington. He and many tourists find pleasure in seeing the artwork, though some do …

Culture & Leisure

Kung Fu in 3D

  Motion capture technology helps to preserve traditional martial arts by Susan Gao & Tracy Zhang He’s dressed in a skintight black bodysuit dotted with 99 position markers.  A martial arts master demonstrates his Kung Fu styles in a 3D motion-capture studio, equipped with cameras and sensors. Certain Hollywood Sci Fi films, such as Avatar, are shot in a similar way. But here, the purpose is to document hundreds of different martial art styles in Hong Kong. The clips will be used to compile a new “Kung Fu Bible” called “The Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive”. High technology such as 3D modeling, is used nowadays to revive traditional martial arts.Motion capture allows swift movements to be recorded in an accurate, lively and precise way. “ 3D technology brings us closer to reality,” said Hing Chao, Chief Executive of the International Joshua Association who launched the archive in 2013. He said 3D imaging approximates live instruction to a greater degree, in comparison with manuals, photographs or videos as references for learning complicated martial arts. “The technology will be used at exhibitions, installations, mobile apps and other digital learning applications, in order to preserve the art of Kung Fu as well as promote it to the public public,” according to Chao. The novelty of motion capture is fascinating to some traditional martial arts master. “In the old days, we followed the movements demonstrated by our instructors. It depends on whether the instructor can explain well,” said Tsang Ho-pan, a veteran master of Wing Tsun, a form of concept-driven martial art rooted in Southeast of China and Hong Kong. The 36-year-old Kung Fu master is now a high rank instructor of the International Wing Tsun Association. “With the help of 3D technology, we can check if the movements are similar to those …

Culture & Leisure

Busking in a concrete jungle

  The Street Music Series introduces diversity to the local music industry by Emily Cheung & Morris Chan   Kung Chi-shing is a  musician and an activist. He has been trying to enrich the musical scene by organising the Street Music Series. It is a platform for young musicians and singer-songwriters to introduce themselves to the community. Mr. Kung started working  with the Hong Kong Arts Centre in 2009 to promote music diversity. Last year, the Street Music Series featured local street musician in 28 concerts. Hong Kong’s music scene, Mr. Kung believes, is dominated by commercial productions. “A healthy society should be very diverse. When different aspects of Hong Kong  embrace diversity, local art does not reflect that. Why can’t we do more to encourage diversity in art?” Mr. Kung said. He believed music should connect with the audience through emotions and the spiritual needs of a community at a given time. The artistic value of music , Mr Kung thinks, is undermined in commercially produced music. One of the performers Bao Kwun-ying said street music allows him to have a more freedom in his performance than in a traditional concert, partly because unlike commercial music, street music does not need to cater for the audience’s needs. “A lots of factors, like marketing, are key to a concert’s success, and those have restricted creativity in music,” Bao said.   Shirley Cho, a street music enthusiast, agreed that Hong Kong should have more support for non-mainstream music because they are very unique. “ They can touch your soul with lyrics and melody that truly reflect reality,” Cho said.   The Street Music Series is not only praised by the audience, but also the performers. It provides everything they need: the equipment and a proper platform for their music. That makes …

Culture & Leisure

Cultural Travelling: Tours that Show a Different Facet

  by Cecilia Wong Cultural travelling is a vogue for travel agencies to bespeak their cultural exploring tours, it goes beyond merely visiting a place, but allows experience as a member of a culture and undergoes transformations of lives. Cultural travelling is to go local and dig into authentic, genuine stories in a country, said Chan Shing-kwan, one of the co-founders of Eastern Vision and Glo Travel which both organising international travel programmes in a unique way. Chan said that they attempt to modify traditional travel tours, which tend to load customers to various tourist spots for merely shopping and eating, by providing comprehensive, intellectual but fun experiences. Tours organised by Eastern Vision and Glo Travel try to break stereotypes and “bridge” different people, he said. “Reading a lot about North Koreans, but had never talked to them, I lost track,” said Niklas Pape, a German exchange student at The University of Hong Kong. He joined an Eastern Vision’s tour to North Korea last year and agreed that through interacting with locals during the visit, participants gained a “different perception” towards North Koreans.  “Only after talking to them, I know they are very same as human beings,” he said.   Unlike a semester exchange which is long enough for complete immersion, the tours are limited by short travelling periods. Thus, he described the tours as just a “tool” for people to gain basic information of a country and open people’s doors to cultural exchange in the future, as well as to build habits of delving into or at least research a country’s background before visiting. Cultural experience is about physical engagement and, of equally important, idea exchange. “Only by going local, talking to local communities, and involving in an environment can people understand the conditions -- political, social and economic …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong Craft Beer: Local Style

by Henry Wong and Sing Lee Hong Kong craft beer brewery, Mak’s Beer, has  been promoting their products for half a year. The based brewery’s latest offering: “Cantonese beer” which they hope will attract local drinkers. The brewers got their inspiration from Yim Tin Tsai Village, a historic neighborhood in Hong Kong that produces  salt. The ingredients include traditional Chinese herbal tea,  wolfberries and longan fruit. “It’s called ‘Cantonese beer’ because we want to build a relationship with our community and educate local people on how to appreciate craft beers,” said Mark Mak, co-founder of the company. Mak’s brewery hosts free factory tours twice a month. Twenty per cent of their beer is offered for free at business and cultural events in order to promote their brand. Mak’s beer is not alone. City Brew’s beer “Kong Girl”, for example, uses the nickname for Hong Kong women in their branding. The Bottle Shop is one of the largest retailers of craft beers  in the city They stock local brands such as Gweilo, Mak’s  and Moonzen. “ Some of the beers include creative local ingredients such as goji berries and chilies to spice up the drink,”  said Joey Chung Wing-yi , the brand and event manager at the Bottle Shop. But the cost of production is an issue for some of the breweries. Mak’s produces 4000 bottles a month and they are priced higher than most commercially available beers. “The competitiveness is about branding and the  craft beer trend in the city,” Mark Mak said. Ms Chung at The Bottle Shop believes craft beer market will become as popular as coffee and red wine in Hong Kong. “There is increasing demand for local craft beers and as more bars stock them, locals became more supportive of this emerging industry,” according to Ms …