Diwali divas

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A Diwali pop-up opens in Central this week

Channel your inner Diwali diva this week as local event specialist Mums@PLAY hosts a three-day Fashion & Fun Pop-Up to highlight the Indian festival of lights.

Diwali celebrates the glory of light over darkness and hope over despair; event organiser Mehroo Turel hopes to make this an accessible Diwali event for Hong Kong’s mums, as well as catering for the territory’s substantial Indian population.

“We hope visitors will enjoy  browsing out curated range of ethnic Indian and fusion products,” says Turel. Shop precious stones, ethnic ‘kundan’ jewellery, traditional ‘gota’ pouches and bags, cotton and linen saris and festive ‘diyas’ (lamps) and homewares. A Diwali-themed party is planned for October 25.

Free entry, 11am-8pm, Oct 25-27, Usagi, Wah Shin House, 6-10 Shin Hing Street, Central. mumsatplay.com

This year Diwali is celebrated on Nov 7.

Six sexy venues for duck and dim sum

By Carolynne Dear for Hong Kong Living

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Hollywood nights – The Chinese Library, Tai Kwun

The Chinese Library

Deliciously decorated in sumptuous style – think velvet-upholstered chairs and thick carpets in vibrant shades of jade green and aqua – The Chinese Library is very much the last word in old-world colonial charm. Huge floor-to-ceiling shuttered patio doors lead from the dining room onto elegant verandahs with views over Hollywood Road to one side and the old Parade Ground at the front of the building.

This Aqua-owned restaurant is situated on the top floor of the old Police Headquarters of Tai Kwun heritage complex and was inspired by the personal library of Chinese cookbooks belonging to Aqua Group founder, David Yeo. All the favourites are covered, from Cantonese to Chiu Chow and Sichuan to Shanghainese, with the very traditional alongside some more inventive dishes – and (of course) plenty of dim sum. If you have overseas guests in town this winter, this is a restaurant that will impress.

In an east-meets-west melange, Aqua has opened British-style Statement is in the next wing, separated by the rather fabulous Dispensary cocktail bar. 

Dim Sum is served 11am-3pm; lunch 12-3pm; afternoon tea 3-5.30pm; dinner 6pm till late; Balcony dining (small plates) 12pm until late. chineselibrary.com.hk

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Cocktails with a view at Madame Fu

Madame Fu

Hong Kong’s current darling, the highly instagramable Madame Fu has been photographed to within an inch of its life since its opening earlier this summer – and with good reason. The modern Cantonese restaurant is designed by Hong Kong’s Christian Rhomberg and occupies the entire third floor of the former Barrack Block at Tai Kwun. The huge area has been divided into seven lavishly decorated rooms, including a wrap-around verandah, main dining room, two private dining rooms, a lunch room, library and glorious Pink Room.

Lavish attention to detail, gorgeous soft furnishings in velvets and silks as well as much colourful artwork has made this one of Hong Kong’s most glamorous spaces.

And with a restaurant helmed by award-winning Argentinian chef Connie Aldao-Worker, the food is very much up to parr. Northern Chinese specialities and dim sum abound. madamefu.com.hk

Chifa

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Those dumplings aren’t going to make themselves. Hard at work in the kitchen at Chifa

Chifa opened its doors earlier this summer and is a perfect stop-off for a bao-based feast.

‘Chifa’ is a culinary tradition based on Cantonese elements fused with traditional Peruvian ingredients. Many Chinese immigrants from Guangdong settled in Peru in the late nineteenth century and Chinese-Peruvian food has become one of the most popular cuisines in modern-day Peru.

Chinese dumplings are at the heart of Pirata’s chifu offering, along with Peruvian dipping sauces. Their violet xiaolongbau has become a bit of an Instagram star – the pink hue is created from a beetroot sauce. The open-style kitchen in a traditional dumpling house setting keeps the space buzzing and it’s handily located in the heart of SoHo on Peel Street. chifa.hk

Pinot Duck

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Quacking good duck burgers at Pinot Duck

Also relatively new on the Hong Kong foodie scene, Pinot Duck has opened in Wan Chai following a successful three years with its inaugural restaurant in Stanley.

As the name suggests, Pinot Duck focuses on doing two things really well. The duck-focused menu showcases different parts of the bird, and is divided into tasters, snacks and a selection of smaller and larger dishes that make it perfect for family-style dining. The experimental dishes are paired with carefully-selected Pinot grape wines. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – Pinot Duck promises a ducking good time. pinotduck.com

 

Madame Ching

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Madame Ching’s suckling pig

Named after the famous female pirate who once commandeered the China seas, Madame Ching sits in the trendy Star Street neighbourhood around the corner from Pacific Place. Opened in June 2018, the small-yet-fearless restaurant serves up Chinese-fusion dishes accompanied by an extremely popular experimental cocktail menu.

The menu has been put together by Vietnamese but North American-raised head chef Son, and is inspired by Madame Ching’s sea-faring conquests. Seasonal sharing dishes include crispy General Son’s chicken, uni served with brussel sprout leaves and creme fraiche and suckling pig. madameching.hk

Hutong

Following a dramatic refurb, Hutong at One Peking has reopened with a stylish Chinese-inspired interior – think birdcage bar, traditional stone ‘Moon Gate’ framing the lounge area, colourful Lai See tree and a 70-year old hand-crafted wooden ceiling lovingly transported to Hong Kong from a heritage Shanxi house. Add in a chilli-infused cocktail menu and a delicious lineup of new dishes and you’ve got yourself the perfect ‘impress-the-guests’ location. Helming the kitchen is chef Martin Mak, a specialist with over 40 years experience in barbecued meats, so you can rest assured your Peking duck – hand-carved at the table – is in safe hands. Expect plenty of tasty northern Chinese favourites and dim sum – but with sexy, sexy views over Victoria Harbour, the food only just gets a look-in. hutong.com.hk

 

 

 

ifc mall reveals its 2018 Christmas display

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An artist’s impression of  ifc’s The Santa Academy Christmas installation 

Hong Kong’s ifc mall has revealed it will be unveiling a Santa-oriented Christmas installation this year.

The Santa Academy invites children to take part in an ‘interactive training programme’ to graduate as a santa. Activities including creating your own digital postcard and mastering the classic “ho, ho, ho!” belly laugh. Inevitably participants will also be invited to share their experience on social media.

After a tech-y space Christmas last year and the infamous dancing penguins of 2016,  it looks like ifc is taking things back to the heart of Christmas with this Santa-centric display.

Santa Academy at ifc mall launches on Nov 15 and runs until Jan 1, free entry, 10am to 9pm daily, ifc mall, First Floor, 8 Finance Street, Central. ifc.com.hk

 

 

Resilience retreat for Hong Kong’s boarders

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The retreat aims to promote mindfulness techniques

Local organisations the Wild Heart Project and Events for Life have joined hands to host a resilience retreat for Hong Kong children who board.

The event is aimed at boarding school students who are back in the SAR for half-term and aims to help cultivate well-being, develop resilience and provide coping techniques for exams. In short, it’s all about dealing with life.

For teens, living away from home can be a daunting time. The ‘Tools For Schools’ Boarders Resilience Retreat focuses on helping each student to build a strong sense of ‘self’.

Areas covered include boundary setting (six ways to say ‘no’ and how to deal with friends and family); positive mindsets; managing big emotions; the importance of self-care and how to employ mindfulness practices such as mediation, breathing techniques and yoga; and Emotional Freedom Techniques to re-programme negative thoughts and feelings.

All students need bring along is water, a healthy packed lunch, a yoga mat (if they have one) and a small cushion. Contact Mindy at Events for Life with further questions mindy@eventsforlife.com.hk.

Boarders Resilience Retreat, $1,588/person, 10am-5pm, Oct 23, Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, Activity Room 1, 109 Po Hong Road, Hang Hau.

Mexican munchies on-the-go

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Lunch is calling – Tumbada Rice by Te Quiero Mucho

Looking for lunch ideas? Te Quiero Mucho has launched a ‘grab-and-go’ menu for Hong Kong’s time-starved workers. The Mexican restaurant is located on the ground floor of new hotel Mojo Nomad Central at 274 Queen’s Road Central. Lunchtime munchers can snap up a main, side and fruit-infused water for $90.

Pictured is the traditional Tumbada Rice, meaning ‘tumbled up rice, which is made with rice, shrimp and a poached egg, spiced and finished with a squeeze of fresh lime. Further items include Barbecue Chicken with a creamy carrot and banana puree; the Mexican Sandwich stuffed with a ‘beef salpicon’ (or ‘jumbled beef’) which in this instance includes beef brisket with slow-cooked inion, tomato and jalapeños and a spicy chipotle mayonnaise. For plant-based clientele, there’s a spaghetti with bell pepper sauce.

Tasty sides include soup of the day, carrot and banana puree and Tijuana Caesar salad and if you’re still hungry, you can polish things off with Churros con Cajeta, a type of dulce de leche made from caramelised goat’s milk for an additional $30. Te Quiero Mucho

Hong Kong’s latest rooftop bar opens

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Enjoy happy hour and harbour views at Cruise, Hotel VIC

Cruise at Hotel VIC has opened with plenty of happy hour cocktails, tapas and killer harbour views.

The twin-tower, North Point hotel launched over the summer with 671 guest rooms, a rooftop swimming pool, 24-hour gym and swish online check-in and -out – guests access their room with a QR code sent to them when they check-in online prior to arrival. Along with the rooftop bar, there’s all-day family feasting and weekend brunch at The Farmhouse on podium level and smart dining at Cruise restaurant on level 23.

As well as signature cocktails and mocktails, Cruise bar offers snack combos of skewer pork sausage, deep fried shrimp balls and garlic & rosemary toasts from 4-11.30pm. It also has two house-beers on tap – VIC Blonde Ale and VIC Sugarcane Stout – and happy hour drinks from 4-8pm.

A tapas menu from 6pm offers foie gras lollipops, lobster & saffron arancini balls, Iberico pork mini charcoal burgers and Australian Wagyu chuck rolls.

Throw in a DJ from 8-11pm every Thursday to Sunday and you’ve got yourself the ideal evening drinks venue. hotelvic.com

 

Twenty-five fab things to do with kids in Hong Kong

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Autumn is perfect weather for a ride on Hong Kong’s Peak Tram

25 Tai Kwun

A new entry for 2018, Tai Kwun, or ‘big station’, was opened earlier this year and is the result of the government’s much vaunted $3.8 billion, eight-year heritage restoration project of the former colonial central police station, magistracy and prison compound. It’s now home to numerous dining outlets, exhibition spaces and ‘storytelling’ spots where you can trace the long history of the complex. Great for boosting kids’ historical knowledge, Tai Kwun is a fascinating addition to Hong Kong’s tourist trail – and it’s gratifying to finally see some of the SAR’s colonial history being saved rather than bulldozed. 10 Hollywood Road, Central. taikwun.hk

 

24 Museum of Eastern and Western Medicine

Discover Hong Kong’s rich medical history tucked away in Sheung Wan. Find out how ‘rat bins’ were used in the early days of the colony to control outbreaks of bubonic plague; see x-rays of bound feet; and take a closer look at old-style acupuncture needles. This small but fascinating museum is housed in the Old Pathological Institute, which itself is one of Hong Kong’s declared monuments. The museum mixes traditional Chinese medicine with modern Western techniques for an all-round view of how the medical industry has developed over the years. 2 Caine Lane, Mid-Level. hkmms.org.hk

 

23 Museum of Coastal Defence

This fun museum is great for kids – they’ll love checking out the tanks and canons – and is housed in the former coastal defence fort overlooking Victoria Harbour. The fort was built by the British in 1887 to defend eastern approaches to the harbour. The museum’s permanent exhibition, ‘600 Years of Coastal Defence’, tells the story of the defence of the territory from the Ming Dynasty, through two Opium Wars and on to the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941. There’s lots to keep kids interested as well as extensive outdoor area. 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan. lcsd.gov.hk

 

22 Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Discover ancient Chinese tea culture and the art of tea preparation at this small museum in Hong Kong Park. Flagstaff House was built in 1846 and was once the residence of the commander of the British Forces. It is one of Hong Kong’s few remaining colonial buildings. It was damaged under the Japanese occupation during World War II and in 1978 was handed over to the Hong Kong government who took great pains to restore it to its original style. It now houses over 600 pieces of teaware as well as a small children’s play area with toy tea sets. 10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central. hk.art.museum

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Tai Kwun on Hollywood Road is the heritage redevelopment of Central’s former police station

21 Hong Kong Park

This eight-hectare park features fountains, lily ponds and play areas, as well as Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, a Thai restaurant, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware (see above) and The Edward Youde Aviary. Sadly the aviary is currently closed for renovations (it’s due to re-open mid-2019), but there’s still plenty to do. If you’ve got budding botanists on your hands, it’s worth checking out the orchids and plants in the Forsgate Conservatory. There’s also a Tai Chi area and the children’s playground is one of the largest in the city. And don’t forget to stop at the artificial lake which is great for turtle-spotting. If you’ve got visitors in town, the park is a fantastic vantage point for taking pictures of the surrounding skyscrapers. 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central. lcsd.gov.hk

 

20 Adventure tours

Escape the city and join Wouter van Marle on one of his discovery walks exploring Hong Kong’s exciting ‘backyard’. This month there’s a Bats Walk on October 13, which is suitable for children aged four and up and takes you on a nighttime adventure walk around Hok Tau Reservoir and Sha Lo Tung abandoned village in the New Territories. The six kilometre trail is along well-maintained paths and dirt track and lasts approximately two hours. For a more challenging adventure, join van Marle on October 28 for a Ponds and Waterfalls Tour – suitable for kids aged eight and up. adventuretours.hk

 

19 Repulse Bay and temple

Soak up the last of the summer sun and take a dip at popular Repulse Bay beach. Head along the sands and discover the temple and statues of Kwun Yam – goddess of mercy – and Tin Hau – goddess of the sea. The traditional Chinese statues stand ten metres high and if you cross the red ‘longevity bridge’ to the shrine, tradition says you will add three days to your life. There is also plenty of flat seafront promenade for littlies to scooter, plus a couple of fun beachside play-parks. Fuel up at the wide selection of eats located in The Pulse shopping mall which overlooks the sands. Beach Road, Repulse Bay. thepulse.com.hk

 

18 Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden

This busy farm was originally set up to help poor farmers in Hong Kong’s New Territories. It now promotes biodiversity conservation and greater environmental awareness in Hong Kong and southern China. The farm was built in the 1950s in a valley with streams, woodlands and terraces and today includes a rescue and rehabilitation programme for native animals. Look out for pigsties, a reptile viewing point, an insect house, the Jim Ades Raptor Sanctuary and the Piers Jacobs Wildlife Sanctuary. 9.30am-5pm, Lam Kam Road, New Territories. kfbg.org

 

17 Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens

The oldest park in Hong Kong and one of the oldest zoological and botanical gardens in the world, Hong Kong’s Botanical Gardens occupies 5.6 hectares of prime Mid-levels real estate on the northern slope of Victoria Peak. It was founded in 1864 and opened to the public in 1871 – an original pagoda still stands and there is an interesting selection of historical photographs in the ‘time tunnel’. This was the original site of Government House. The park is today home to over 600 birds, 70 mammals and 40 reptiles, although it has been recommended by wildlife experts that the area is returned to its original state as a botanical garden. Enjoy the gardens from the cafe at the entrance – there’s plenty of space for the kids to run around and also a children’s playground. Albany Road, Central. lcsd.gov.hk

 

16 Hong Kong Wetland Park

Escape the city for the wildlife of the far north New Territories. The Hong Kong Wetland Park has over 60-hectares of parkland demonstrating the diversity of the territory’s wetland ecosystem. Originally set up as a mitigation area to compensate for wetlands lost due to the Tin Shui Wai New Town development, it now bills itself an international park with visitor centre. Expect to see mangroves, butterflies, birds, reptiles, crabs, fish and more. If you’re coming by car, some parking is available, otherwise catch the MTR to Tin Shui Wai and change for Wetland Park Station/Tin Sau Station on the Light Rail Line. Open everyday except for Tuesday, 10am-5pm, $15 for three to 17 year olds and grandparents over 65, $30 standard. Wetland Park Rd, Tin Shui Wai. wetlandpark.gov.hk

 

15 Aberdeen Promenade and sampan tour

Stroll along the pushchair-friendly Aberdeen Promenade from the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market at the western end – don’t forget to check out the catch of the day – to the east side where you can hop on a sampan for a tour of the typhoon shelter. Expect to pay around $80/person for a half-hour tour, during which you will get up close to the floating fishing village which is still semi-home to a number of the boat-dwelling Tanka people. And at the other end of the social scale, view the glossy yachts jostling for position in Aberdeen harbour – one allegedly belongs to Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan. Aberdeen Praya Road, Aberdeen.

 

14 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Best attempted at this cooler time of year, the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is actually five temples, four pavilions, one pagoda – and 430 steep hillside steps to reach them. Make sure the walking party is forewarned and forearmed! Alongside the climb are dozens of golden and painted life-size buddha statues, all of which are different, so take your time and catch your breath while you have a look. At the top are views across the New Territories and the bright red pagoda that appears on $100 bills printed between 1985 and 2002. Take the MTR to Sha Tin, the steps are at the end of Sheung Wo Che Street on the left-hand side. Sheung Wo Che Street, Sha Tin. 10kbuddhas.org

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Hanging around over Lantau

13 Chi Lin Nunnery

This large Buddhist complex in Diamond Hill, Kowloon, was founded in the 1930s as a retreat for Buddhist nuns. It was rebuilt in the 1990s following traditional Tang Dynasty architecture – it’s constructed entirely from cypress wood, using no nails, and is in fact the world’s largest handmade wooden building. Once you’ve viewed the nunnery, let the kids have a scamper over 3.5 hectares of landscaped gardens across the road at Nan Lian Gardens. The gardens also house a tasty vegetarian restaurant and teahouse. And slightly off-the-wall-fact, many vote the souvenir shop the best in Hong Kong. Take the MTR to Diamond Hill, 5 Chi Lin Drive, Sheung Yuen Leng, 2354 1888. chilin.org

 

12 Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City Park started life as a military stronghold. Its strategic position on the waterfront (these days it’s land-locked and surrounded by high-rise) meant in the 1840s it was turned into a garrison with massive stone walls and watchtowers. By the 1940s it housed over 40,000 inhabitants and had become a centre for vice and crime, Triad activity and prostitution. In the 1990s it was demolished, the inhabitants resettled, and the area transformed into tranquil gardens. There are water features, photographic displays tracing the area’s history, a chess garden and paved walkways, as well as a playpark at the entrance on Junction Road. Adjacent to the gardens is a bike park with cycles for hire. Take the MTR to Lok Fu Station, 6.30am-11pm daily, Tung Tau Tsuen Road, Kowloon. amo.gov.hk

 

11 Lantau cable car and Po Lin Monastery

As construction work continues apace on Lantau, this trip becomes ever more fascinating. Be wowed by the juxtaposition of massive-scale engineering projects and nature as you travel south from the airport over rolling emerald mountains towards the Big Buddha and the village of Ngong Ping. The Buddha and surrounding temples are just about saved from Disneyfication (souvenir shops abound) by their authenticity – expect lots of incense burning, prayers and feral buffalo wandering around. Book a return ticket, or there are public buses and taxis available for the 30-minute trip back to Tung Chung. Take the MTR to Tung Chung, parking available at Citygate. np360.com.hk.

 

10 Temple Street Night Markets

Bag a bargain, haggle to your heart’s content, ‘fess up to a fortune teller, it’s all happening on Temple Street come nightfall. From handbags to wallets, clothing, trinkets, souvenirs, toys and everything in between, this is a hardcore, fast-paced version of chi chi Stanley Market. And when you’re done, take the weight off your feet (and the pressure off your purse) with a beer and some noodles from a roadside food stall – we’re not talking high glamour here, expect plastic seating and toilet roll napkins. But the service is efficient and the food tasty and inexpensive. Temple Street, TST, nearest MTR station is Jordan. temple-street-night-market.hk

 

9 Stanley Markets

If you’ve got guests in town, you’re not going to escape a trip to Stanley Markets, so embrace it with a stylish arrival on Aqua Luna followed by a tasty lunch. There are restaurants aplenty on the waterfront, a great place for watching the world go by as you catch up on all the news from back ‘home’. On weekends the promenade is pedestrian-only, scooter heaven for the kids. Aqua Luna sails from Central Ferry Pier 9 at midday, picking up at TST and arriving at 1.30pm at Stanley Blake Pier. The return journey leaves Stanley at 3.30pm, $280/adult one-way, $190/child. aqualuna.com.hk.

 

8 Hong Kong’s pink dolphins

They may be under threat like never before, but Hong Kong’s pink dolphins are still bobbing around off north Lantau. Meet them with Hong Kong’s most reputable tour groups, Hong Kong DolphinWatch. The team has been leading ecological tours to see the endangered dolphins since 1995 and sightings are more-or-less guaranteed – although numbers are diminishing due to Lantau’s huge construction projects, including the airport extension and the Macau bridge. Hong Kong DolphinWatch can pick guests up from 3 Salisbury Road, TST, and drive out to Lantau where you board the viewing boat. 1528A Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. hkdolphinwatch.com

 

7 History tours with Jason Wordie

Local historian and writer Jason Wordie leads a number of historical tours around the territory. This month he’s running a tour of Central on October 1, Wan Chai on October 13, Kennedy Town on October 20, Kowloon City on October 25 and Sham Shui Po wet markets on October 29. The tours last approximately three-and-a-half hours and are crammed with fascinating facts and figures for a much deeper understanding of Hong Kong life. Suitable for older children and grandparents happy with standing and walking for the duration of the tour. jasonwordie.com

 

6 Ping Shan Heritage Trail

Hong Kong’s original heritage trail takes you through a part of Hong Kong that has been populated by the Tangs, one of the territory’s oldest ‘clan settlers’ since the Yuan Dynasty in the thirteenth century. See historic buildings belonging to the family, Hong Kong’s oldest pagoda Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, the magnificent Tang Clan Ancestral Hall, a temple, a study hall and a well. Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery and the trail’s visitor centre is located inside the Old Ping Shan Police Station, built by the British in 1900 as much to monitor the coastline as to keep an eye on the clan. Hang Tau Tsuen, Ping Shan, Yuen Long, New Territories. amo.gov.hk

 

5 Aberdeen Promenade and sampan tour

Stroll along the pushchair-friendly Aberdeen Promenade from the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market at the western end – don’t forget to check out the catch of the day – to the east side where you can hop on a sampan for a tour of the typhoon shelter. Expect to pay around $80/person for a half-hour tour, during which you will get up close to the floating fishing village which is still semi-home to a number of the boat-dwelling Tanka people. And at the other end of the social scale, view the glossy yachts jostling for position in Aberdeen harbour – one allegedly belongs to Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan.

 

4 Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Located in Kowloon, this traditional style Chinese temple is nestled between high rise shopping malls and residential buildings. It’s actually one of Hong Kong’s most popular temples and well-known amongst the international Chinese community. Sik Sik Yuen is the Taoist organisation that administers the temple, while Wong Tai Sin, or Wong Cho-ping, was a young shepherd-boy from Zhejiang province around 300AD who devoted his life to Taoism and to whom the temple is dedicated. Wong Tai Sin literally means ‘great immortal Wong’. The temple includes a Nine Dragons Wall, fortune telling hall and a Good Wish Garden with Taoist garden pond. Catch the MTR to Wong Tai Sin. siksikyuen.org.hk

 

3 Peng Chau

Grab a ferry to laidback tiny Peng Chau lying off the north-eastern coast of Lantau. Famous for its temples and seafood, the island used to be a hive of activity with a matchstick factory and lime kilns. There is now just one kiln left – lime was produced by burning oyster shells, clam shells and coral, and was used in construction and ship maintenance until the 1950s – and the former Great China Match Factory is now no more than a few stones marking the boundary walls. Today the island is great for easy hiking (we did it with a grandad and a four-year-old) – head up to Finger Hill for panoramic views over the Tsing Ma bridge and Disneyland, then hit the Peng Chau Family Trail which is a paved walk around the island. Allow two to three hours. Bring a picnic, or try one of the handful of local-style restaurants.

 

2 Cheung Chau treetop adventures

Sai Yuen Farm on the outlying island of Cheung Chau boasts a model boating pond, goat feeding and for those aged four and up, Climbing Monkeys. And for older children aged eight and above is a ten-metre-high tree-top canopy walk with biplane. Not only that, there’s a Segway course through Devil’s Forest for teens (13+). You can even camp-over in a Mongolian Ger, an African safari tent of a geodesic dome.  Visitors are also invited to bring their own camping gear. Catch a ferry from Central Ferry Pier No 5 and there are signs for the farm from Cheung Chau ferry pier. 

 

1 Peak tram

An oldie but a goodie, Hong Kong’s peak tram offers postcard perfect shots as you ride up Victoria Peak. This year it celebrates its 130th birthday. Hack of the day is to take a taxi or bus to the top and catch the tram back down – this way you avoid the monster queues on Garden Road. If your group is looking to stretch their legs, the flat, paved and shady Lugard Road circular walk is just under 4kms and offers views across Pok Fu Lam reservoir, Aberdeen and Lamma, the Tsing Ma bridge, and finally the city in all its high rise splendour. The Peak is undergoing major renovation at the moment and many of the ground floor cafes and shops are currently closed. Pacific Coffee by the tram station and The Peak Lookout Cafe both remain open, however, each offering knock-out views.

New family travel website hopes to boost city stays with kids

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City-based travel with kids is great fun with the right information about where-to-stay and what-to-do

A team of travel bloggers has banded together to launch family-friendly website, Little City Trips. While there is an abundance of family travel blogs online, the team-of-three discovered there is no ‘go-to’ website for parents attempting to plan a city trip with children in tow.

“We all write content for our own blogs based on our personal experiences of the places we have travelled to,” says Marianne Rogerson, one of the founding editors of Little City Trips. “Sometimes we’ll cover hotels or some of the things we have done. But we realized there was no one website where you could find all the information you need for a family city trip all in one place.”

The team also realized that reading so many personal blog posts can be overwhelming for parents who are short of time. The website aims to provide at-a-glance information for each city: where to stay, what to do and what to pack, in addition to useful information such as getting around and the best time to visit.

The Little City Trips team is keen to emphasise to parents that city trips with kids can be fun. “Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of a city break with kids,” continues Rogerson. “But cities can be loads of fun as a family. You just need to be a bit organized and plan ahead.”

Little City Trips has launched with 18 of the most popular cities across the world and the team plans to add to this over the coming months. The team behind Little City Trips includes Keri Hedrick from Our GlobetrottersMarta Correale from Learning Escapes and Marianne Rogerson from Mum on the Move.

 

 

Lion City beats Hong Kong as most desirable place to live

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Expatriates prefer life in Singapore

Singapore remains the preferred place to live for expatriates, despite Hong Kong ranking highest for take-home pay.

The Expat Explorer survey, which is conducted annually by HSBC, found that Hong Kongers take home on average almost US$6,000 per year more than those in China which ranked second for income, and US$16,534 more than those living in Singapore, which came in at number three. Compared to the rest of the world, Hong Kong expats earn a whopping US$72,000 more than the average expat globally.

Sixty one percent of Hong Kong expats surveyed said they have more disposable income than they did at home. Higher earnings, lower tax bills and perks such employers covering accommodation, schooling and car costs were cited as reasons for having more cash in their pockets. It was found that the additional income is spent on holidays, luxury items, education and investments.

However, despite this the Lion City ranked top of the world table for liveability for the fourth year running.

Hong Kong was also named the best place in Asia for career progression. Forty percent of those questioned said they moved to Hong Kong specifically to progress their careers, just behind Singapore at 45%.

Over 22,000 expats took part in the survey, from home countries including the UK (31%), mainland China (15%), the US (12%), Australia (9%), Canada (5%), India (4%), and 3% each from France, Singapore and Germany. expatexplorer.hsbc.com

Lantau lady launches English sparkling wine Hong Kong-side

Sarah Driver tells Carolynne Dear her Hong Kong story for Hong Kong Living

Family
A family affair – Sarah Driver (third from left) with husband Mark (second from left) and their children at the Hong Kong launch of Rathfinny Estate

I arrived in Hong Kong in 1965, aged one, with my parents and brothers, Robert and Ian. My father worked for the government in the Parks Department (he was responsible for the planting of Statue Square) and we lived at Mount Nicholson. We did a tour of three years and then returned for a further tour, but in March 1969 my father suddenly died. We were allowed to remain in our flat to finish the school year – I was at Peak School with Ian, while Robert was at Island School. My mother had been working for the Blind Association, teaching English, and after dad’s funeral she ended up meeting the association’s chairman, Brook Bernacchi, at one of their events. He invited us to his home at Ngong Ping on Lantau (this was before the Big Buddha) and as children, we fell in love with the place. We returned to England, but Brook wanted to take care of us as a family and my mother agreed to marry him and come back to Hong Kong.

We returned to Hong Kong to a very different life. Brook was – and still is – an extremely well known figure here. He came out of the war as a young barrister and stayed in Hong Kong, eventually becoming head of the Bar. He started the first political party here, the Reform Club, and was an urban councillor in Chai Wan. He was a vocal opponent of the government at times and I remember calls from the press at all hours of the day and night. He was a true social philanthropist and was key in the development of social housing and education for all. He founded the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts and the Discharged Prisoner Aid Society.

My childhood on Lantau was unusual. We were the only English family on the island and it used to take the best part of four hours to get home on a Friday evening after school. We stayed on Lantau every weekend and school holiday, returning on a Monday morning by waking at 5am, eating hard boiled eggs in the Land Rover to the ferry, doing our homework en route and getting to school just in time for the bell. There was no road to Tai O and we used to travel down the riverbed to shop in the small town. During the week we lived at Carolina Gardens in Coombe Road.

My step-father had started a tea plantation on Lantau in the early 1950s with plants from Sri Lanka, where he’d been stationed during the war. I remember regularly picking tea, the bud and two leaves, and throwing them into large wicker baskets on my back. The tea was usually made in a small factory at night, when it was cooler. We also had stables with ex-race horses and army polo ponies which we rode across the plateau.

I returned to England after my A-levels to study law at Bristol University. I trained in the City of London with Herbert Smith and then returned to Hong Kong to work with them in the 1980s.

I had my first child, Brook, at Matilda Hospital; it was quite hard to be a working mum in Hong Kong in those days. I had to work full-time and also on Saturday mornings. Unlike in England where nannies could take children to various activities, our lovely maid, Rose, could not. So Brook spent a lot of time in the car park. I wanted to spend more time with him, and my husband Mark had received a good offer back in London, so that fixed things for us.

Mark decided to retire at 46 which sent me into a panic. I had a busy life with four fairly young children and I couldn’t imagine him being around all day. We had visited vineyards in New Zealand in the 1990s and loved the idea of owning one, but we had no money and life with four children got in the way. Mark revisited the idea when he discovered that England was producing some of the best sparkling wines in the world. He decided to go back to university for a degree in viticulture. At the same time, Rathfinny came up for sale. It was a perfect site – the same chalk soils as Champagne in France, and south-facing slopes in one of the warmest and sunniest parts of England. Due to global warming, we are where Champagne was about 30 years ago. But we are able to harvest our fruit later, in October, allowing the grapes to ripen and enhance their flavours.

We bought Rathfinny in 2010, planted our first vines in 2012 and released our first vintages of Sussex Sparkling this year. Sussex was the first region in the UK to establish a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). The PDO establishes quality rules about how grapes are grown and wines are produced and each wine has to be assessed. To be a Sussex Sparkling is a real mark of provenance and quality. I manage the branding and design side of the business, as well as the ‘tourist’ side. We offer tours and accommodation and have recently opened a Cellar Door and a Tasting Room with fine dining.

Our wines are distributed in Hong Kong by Jebsen Fine Wines. They’re available in restaurants such as Arcane and Bo Innovation and also Wagyu. Production is steadily growing and we hope to be more readily available here over the next few years as vintages are released.

I still have family in Hong Kong and I love coming back. I enjoy going back to Ngong Ping to the house I grew up in and catching up with old friends. And I like to take a long ride on the top of a tram to watch the world go by. I’ve written a memoir about my childhood and am now working on an historical TV series with my son, so I always get inspiration when I’m here. rathfinnyestate.com