Monthly Archives: May 2012

BLOG – The Tiny HK Apartment With 24 Rooms in 1 8

As HK has the most expensive real estate in the world, space is a premium. Architect Gary Chang – director of EDGE Design Institute – decided to design a 344 sq. ft. apartment ‘Swiss Army Knife’ – which is able to change into 24 different designs by simply sliding panels and walls. Gary calls this the ‘Domestic Transformer’, the clever bastard…

AFP Via EDGE Design

AFP Via EDGE Design

MAN OF LETTERS – A Letter to American Express, Hong Kong

American Express are rewarding their customers for supporting small business by handing out Starbucks coupons! Such selfless instances of community outreach always move me to reach for my parchment and quill…

Dear Ms Yeow,imeter11.gif (145×144)

I am just in the process of reassembling my ever-unreliable Irony Meter after it exploded upon receipt of your recent communiqué regarding small business. (Ironically, the box said ‘Built Specifically to Withstand Corporate Cluelessness’). 

Nevertheless, I am pleased to accept a coupon that I shall lovingly squander at my grassroots, local, independent Starbucks branch, which I note is struggling by on a meagre revenue of US$10.71 billion. I hope my HK$3 upgrade will not dent their NASDAQ stock, lest their 149,000 employees be out of work.

Might I also clarify as to whether the coupon is valid at all 19,555 worldwide branches or just the 100+ Hong Kong locations? Does it include the Hollywood Rd outlet which recently replaced an independent restaurant, as well as the Central branch which is mocked up to resemble an old Mama-and-Poppa’s tea shop?

Finally, how literally should I take AMEX’s advice to support small business? As suggested, I’ve been frequenting some adorable sole-traders but they seem to demand some kind of archaic tangible form of currency! And retailers who accept cards do not take AMEX, complaining of ‘inflated merchant fees’ for the card. I even tried paying my elderly lychee hawker with the Starbucks coupon but she started chasing me with a large stick.

HISTORY – The Bombing of Hong Kong by the U.S. 14th Air Force 6

The 3 photos below are from the FDR Presidential Library & Museum and show scenes from an aerial reconnaissance flight after a raid on Hong Kong during WWII. Often, after a bombing mission, one lucky pilot would get to stick around to try and survey the damage to targets in order to report back to command.

The initial Japanese attack took place just 8 hours after the bombing Pearl Harbour. The Gin Drinker’s Line set up over 2 years by the British was expected to protect the territory for months – however, it fell in the space of 3 days with troops outnumbered 2:1. Within 18 days, Hong Kong itself had fallen and the Japanese ceased control at the Peninsula Hotel on Christmas Day, 1941.

Despite an impressive continued resistance by Gangjiu Da Dui Guerillas, the brutal Japanese occupation lasted for 3-and-a-half years (for which there is still residual resentment amongst many Hong Kongers today).

Unexploded bombs from WWII are still occasionally uncovered, especially around areas of reclamation, and war remnants can be spotted and explored on various historical hiking trails around the city.

Click to enlarge

ART – The Cattle Depot Artist Village (Comfort Women Exhibition) 3

Originally a government-owned slaughterhouse, Ma Tau Kok’s Cattle Depot Artist Village was renovated and reopened as artist’s studios in 2001. Home to around 20 such art groups, it was opened to the public in 2009 and occasionally hosts exhibitions.

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Click to enlarge

Though a  welcome rarity in a city renowned for its cluelessness with art and culture, red tape continues to inhibit artistic expression as resident artists cannot paint the walls, place works outside their studios, stay overnight or conduct any public functions without a Public Entertainment Licence. Only recently have the public been allowed to even visit.

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GovHK’s short-sightedness, obstructionism and outright hostility towards any grassroots cultural or artistic expression will mean that we will inevitably continue to lose out to neighbours such as Singapore.

BLOG – Weird Propaganda Sign on Hong Kong Soil 2

The billboard below is situated outside the Admiralty PLA barracks on Hong Kong Island. It says ‘Love the motherland, love Hong Kong, love the garrison troops“, written in mainland simplified Chinese as opposed to locally used traditional characters.

There remains around 6000 personnel stationed in Hong Kong inculding elements of the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force, PLA Navy, and PLA Air Force. All are under the direct leadership of Beijing.

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Photo via Flickr

VIDEO – No Room at the Cemetery? Turn Loved Ones Into Jewellery! 3

CNN’s Ramy Inocencio reports below on diamond burials for the dead in Hong Kong. No, it’s not a new luxury line of blinged-up coffins but rather a process whereby loved ones departed are transformed into jewellery as a cost-effective, portable and convenient way to keep them around after the Grim Reaper has struck.

Spots in private cemeteries cost around HK$280,000 and families wait up to 56 months for reused public burial spaces. Therefore, sending your late Grandma to Switzerland to be ground down into a diamond may actually be a wiser option…

90% of the dead are cremated, due to the limited space, as TIME Magazine reports…

BLOG – The Official Hong Kong Hiking Drinking Game 639

As you work your way around Hong Kong’s country parks, trails and hiking routes, grab your energy drink and play the Official Hong Kong Hiking Drinking Game as you inevitably encounter the following sights and curiosities…

Umbrella in the Sun – 2 shots

Pet Dog – 2 shots (extra shot if dog in baby back carrier)

White People – 2 shots (N.B. White people are concentrated on the Dragon’s Back route – it’s the only hike they know)

ART – Spoon Art Fair Highlights 1

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Concluding coverage of HK’s art week, here are some highlights from Spoon Art Fair which played second fiddle to ART HK over the weekend. Based at the Grand Hyatt, more than 50 galleries – mostly Asian – exhibited works over two floors of hotel rooms. The Hyatt also promoted a ‘My First Collection’ theme, which showcased ‘affordable’ pieces under US$3000.