28 January 2009


'The late version of Shanghaijing - Hong Kong version VI', an installation at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre by Pauline Mak. These hanging plastic bag sculptures are based on strange mythical animals from the 2000-year-old Chinese 'Classic of Mountain and Sea'. A comment on the intertextuality between the traditional and the modern, Chinese mythology, the possibilities of genetic modification and biotechnology, and too many plastic bags in Hong Kong. Hanging under spotlights in a darkened empty room, they and their shadows looked really strange.

A walk through Shek Kip Mei 5

Finally we arrived at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, which opened not long ago in Shek Kip Mei in a renovated nine-storey factory building and provides space for artists and craftspeople to create and display work. This is the interior courtyard and the hanging cloths - the kind that are used for canopies in markets and constructions sites - are part of an exhibition of installations on the theme of memory.

A walk through Shek Kip Mei 4

A poster from Shek Kip Mei post office. Here are the popular Hong Kong cartoon characters McDull and McMug encouraging us to keep our letters tidy if we want them to be delivered. Alice noticed the red rabbit and black pig stamps that were used in kindergartens to let kids know if their work was tidy or not. She wonders if they are still used now. She also tells me that the black pig has made its way into Cantonese - if you don't keep your room tidy, you might just 'get a black piggie'.

25 January 2009

A walk through Shek Kip Mei 3

These coin-operated rides are yet another attraction at the Colourful Dragon Restaurant. Oddly enough, we found more of these on exhibition in G.O.D. at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre later in the afternoon. Here they are, newly painted, in full working order and ready to use.

A walk through Shek Kip Mei 2

The Colourful Dragon Restaurant in Tai Hang Tung public housing estate. I have passed this octagonal two-storey restaurant many times in the car, but have never had chance to go in before. Apart from the food, the attraction is the dance floor. Tea dance $68, nightclub $108.

A walk through Shek Kip Mei 1

Some pictures taken on a walk through Shek Kip Mei, from the back door of City University to the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre. This banner is on the side of a concrete footbridge and advertises all the things you can buy at Tai Hang Tung public housing estate market. Teddy bears and paper clips?

23 January 2009

Top ten things to do in Taipei

Something from an old notebook that I found today brought back good memories. In summer 2007, Alice, Kaz (11 at the time) and myself went off to a great weekend at the Formoz Festival in a park and baseball stadium in downtown Taipei. In between, there were endless games of 'street basketball' - a game you can play everywhere in Taipei, but nowhere in Hong Kong - while Alice went off in search of hedgehogs. Yo La Tengo were already my favourite band and Kaz had got into the Teryaki Boyz after watching Tokyo Drift. Afterwards we started to listen to Mercury Rev and Alice fell in love with the Taiwanese band Echo (although strangely we missed their set).

I guess the list was some kind of collective literacy event because it shows traces of being written by all three of us. It was evidently unfinished...only nine?

  1. Eat Hot Star chicken at Shimin night market
  2. Go on a hedgehog hunt (Taipei is the hedghog capital of East Asia)
  3. Play 'street basketball everywhere you go [and we did - see photo]
  4. Shi ling bun (dumpling bun) at Dun Thai Fung (yummy)
  5. Go to the Eslite 24hr bookstore in the afternoon (never between 10 pm and 10 am)
  6. Record people entering MRT stations and appreciate the 'city beat' of Taipei
  7. Eating quails eggs in Danshui (and deep-fried durian, haha - [see profile photo]
  8. Go to the Formoz Festival and see Yo La Tengo (or Teriyaki Boyz if you prefer)
  9. Go to the 'retro' toy shop in Danshui and buy a catapult (or a paper doll if you are a girl)

18 January 2009

Selling dog meat as mutton

The Hong Kong government has just announced a new policy on the language of instruction in schools that I am not going to talk about here, except to say that in the past some schools have claimed to teach in English when the teachers have actually been using quite a lot of Cantonese. According to yesterday's South China Morning Post, in Cantonese this is called 'selling dog meat as mutton'. Not everybody thinks this is a bad thing - I mean mixing Cantonese with English. But if the SCMP report is accurate, Leung Yiu-chung, a legislator and a maths teacher, wants to go even further. "Teachers are in the frontline," he said, "They should be allowed to decide for themselves. What's wrong with selling dog meat as mutton?" Well, quite a lot really, if you read this report from the Russia Info-Centre about a Chinese restaurant in Moscow.

06 January 2009

Salty lemon drink

Another Hong Kong drink. A bottle of Sprite on top of a salty pickled lemon. Is it Hong Kong or Vietnamese? I am not sure. This one is from Pho Saigon restaurant in Prince Edward. Tastes great!


This goes back to Christmas Day. At Christmas, what to Hong Kong people like to eat? Ice cream, of course, especially from the Mr Softee van that parks near the Star Ferry at Tsim Tsa Tsui. But not a hundred yards away outside the Cultural Centre we found another van undercutting Mr Softee by giving away free ice creams. This one was advertising Korean superstar Rain's new album Rainism. Rain has come a long way in Asia just singing in Korean, but according to the advertising on the side of the van, Rain sings in Korean, English and Mandarin on this album. He is also supposedly bringing out an English album this year, which should be interesting because so far all the big Asian stars who have brought out English albums in the last few years have been female.

03 January 2009

3 Hello Ringtones

When we started researching Hong Kong English pop music in 2006, records like this were pretty hard to get hold of. This is Except You b/w No One Can Love You by Mod East released on Diamond some time around the mid-6os. They still are pretty hard to get hold of on vinyl, but now they are also starting to come out on CD (Universal have the back catalogue) and even as ringtones. Below is a list of tracks available as 'hello ringtones' (i.e. what someone hears when they call you) from 3. Most, if not all, came out on Diamond in the 60s. Of course, you need the right kind of 3 mobile account to download one, but if you have one, follow the link, and look in 'jazz/classic music' in the 'hello ring library'.

Hasta Manana 情莫變 - Amina

I Still Love You - Anders Nelson & The Inspiration

Love to Dance (Hala Hala) - D'Topnotes

Up Up & Away - Danny Diaz & The Checkmates

Deborah - Joe Jr. & Side Effects

Let's Go Off-Beat - Kong Ling

Lullaby of Birdland - Marilyn Palmer

Stranger to Love - Mod East

梭羅河 - Mona Fong

Shadow of Your Smile - Rowena

You've Lost That Loving Feeling - The Fabulous Echoes

I'll Be Waiting - The Lotus

1, 2, 3, Red Light - The Menace

Send Her Back The Mystics

Butterfly - Robert Lee 李振輝

十號風波 (Typhoon #10) - Teng Kee Chan / Lee Wai 鄧寄塵 / 李慧

01 January 2009

Two good friends

And before the shopping spree we had lunch at the 'Very Good Restaurant' on Soy Street. This is what is known as a cha chaan teng, a cheap restaurant that sells all kinds of Chinese and Western dishes and a few that have got mixed up along the way. Actually, there are a few 'Very Good Restaurants' around town, but this is a favourite because we like to go upstairs and be reminded of the 71/2th floor in Being John Malkowich. Below are a couple of Hong Kong pop food icons sharing a laugh with the chopsticks. On the left is a glass of iced lemon coffee and on the right a glass of yin yeung - tea mixed with coffee or maybe coffee mixed with tea.

I have been reading a couple of academic papers by DrJoolz where she mentions how digital cameras and Flickr are changing people's lives in a way that they carry cameras around with them everywhere and photograph everything they do. I was reminded that here in Hong Kong taking a photo of your lunch or dinner before you eat it has become quite the thing to do. And sure enough, just after we'd finished our photo session, the young couple next to us pulled out their cameras and started snapping their congee and noodles too.

Shopping spree

After Sino Centre, CTMA Centre is my favourite Mongkok mall - especially the top floor and two basement floors which are jammed with small shops selling all kinds of wierd and wonderful toy figures. You'll find it on Sai Yeung Choi South St near the junction with Dundas Street. After a heavy-drinking New Year's Eve, we felt like doing absolutely nothing at all except to go on a meaningless shopping spree. Below is a group shot of some of the things we bought - a set of Evangelion figures, a wind-up hedgehog, a pig from Monster Hunter, and a fisheye 'jelly lens'. The jelly lens cost only HK$35 and I suppose that's why my photo of the mall didn't turn out so good.