Sheraton Grand Danang Resort, overlooking the white sands of Nun Nuoc beach, opens its doors this month. The 258-room resort boasts an infinity pool, private beach, watersports, spa and six restaurants and bars. Special short-haul packages, including Spa Indulgence and Stay and Play – which includes a round of golf at the nearby BRG Danang Golf Course – are now available. sheraton.marriott.com
It’s looking to be a busy autumn for Hyatt Regency with the opening of three new properties in Asia. The sites in Okinawa, Bangkok and Bali are all set to launch by the end of the year.
The family-friendly property in Sanur on Bali’s south-west coast aims to keep guests entertained with 400m of beachfront, three swimming pools and a Camp Hyatt kids club. The hotel is also happy to organise babysitters so parents can enjoy a relaxed meal in one of the two restaurants, perhaps followed by a nightcap in the piano bar.
The Bangkok property is located on buzzing Sukhumvit Road – a bridge connecting guests directly to the Skytrain makes this a convenient location for those wanting to explore the city. Designed in the style of a modern Thai house, the hotel is particularly proud of its two-storey, ‘urban forest’ style rooftop bar with a ‘bubbly bar’ dedicated entirely to champagne.
The Japanese venture is situated on private Seragaki Island and boasts no less than eight restaurants and two bars. And with four flights a day into Okanawa, it promises to be an easy escape from Hong Kong. hyatt.com
Emirates is adding Edinburgh to its list of European destinations as of October 1.
The airline has also introduced My Travel to complement its loyalty programme, Emirates Skywards. This allows family members to pool Skywards Miles for faster redemption of rewards.
Emirates has introduced a new range of toys and games for tiny travellers. The Emirates Fly With Me collection and Lonely Planet Kids activity bags are available for youngsters travelling in all classes. The products include Lewis the Lion, Peek U the Panda, Ernie the Penguin and Savanna the Elephant. Fly with Me Lonely Planet kids activity bags in new designs will be offered to older children, with travel books, craft and puzzle activities. The Fly with Me magazine will also continue to be available on board, featuring puzzles, jokes and activities for children aged seven to 12 years. emirates.com
Second World War-survivor Barbara Anslow has just published her war-time diaries, Tin Hats & Rice, seven decades after they were first written. She might be turning 100 this year, but her memories of Hong Kong under the Japanese remain sharp. Now living in the UK, she was keen to expand on her experiences when I reached out to her last month.
She was interned with her sisters and mother shortly after the Japanese invasion in December, 1941, and survived three-and-a-half gruelling years as a prisoner of war in Stanley Internment Camp.
But publication of her daily diary entries written during this time took a circuitous route. After rewriting them decades later when the journal’s paper started disintegrating, she began posting extracts to an internet group. They were read by David Bellis, founder of Hong Kong history website Gwulo, who thought it would be interesting to email daily extracts to a subscriber group so people could relive the events at the pace at which they happened. The feedback was positive and it was suggested Anslow should publish the diary as a book.
Anslow’s relationship with Hong Kong began well before the outbreak of hostilities. She first arrived on board a steamer in 1927 when her father was sent out from England to work in the naval dockyard as an electrical engineer.
“It was a great life for Olive and Mabel (her sisters) and me,” she recalls. “The naval yard used to lay on bathing trips at weekends on a tug, taking us to swim at the lovely beaches, Deep Water Bay, Big Wave Bay, Silvermine Bay, Cheung Chau and Castle Peak. It was absolute heaven.”
The girls attended Kowloon Junior School and then the Central British School (now ESF King George V School) and when the family moved to Kennedy Road on Hong Kong Island, they attended the former Garrison School which used to stand next to the Lower Peak Tram terminus. It was a one-storeyed building mainly for army children and Anslow remembers the boys escaping out of the iron-barred windows when the teachers’ backs were turned.
Due to her father’s ill health, the family returned to the UK in 1929, but nine years later he was re-appointed and they arrived back in Hong Kong in 1938.
She found work as a government stenographer but as war engulfed Europe, in 1941 she was evacuated on a ship bound for Australia with her sisters and mother, Mabel Redwood. However, on reaching Manila, they received news that Anslow’s father had suddenly died.
“When we heard of dad’s death while awaiting shipment to Australia, we wanted to get back to Hong Kong as soon as possible to find out what happened,” she says. “We returned a month later and there was no sign of the Japanese attacking the colony, so we argued successfully with the naval yard officials that we should stay. Olive and I were the breadwinners and we both had permanent jobs as shorthand typists with the Hong Kong government.”
Anslow found herself living in Happy Valley in the lead-up to the Japanese invasion. She remembers tunnels being dug into the hillside and concrete one-storey bomb-protection buildings called ‘pen shelters’ being erected in residential districts. There were practice blackouts and air-raid wardens, mostly Chinese, were being hurriedly recruited and trained.
“I was working at the Air Raid Precautions headquarters which of course was dominated by war preparations. We were anxious, but hoping for the best,” she says.
On December 8, the Japanese invaded from China. They quickly crossed the New Territories and Kowloon, arriving on Hong Kong Island on December 18. After fierce fighting, the colony surrendered on December 25.
“Life changed completely after December 8,” Anslow remembers. “Most of the women had wartime jobs in nursing or food control. There was very little public transport and most workers ended up having to find somewhere to sleep close to their place of work as travel became increasingly difficult. My mother and Mabel were nurses, mum at a temporary hospital in the Jockey Club in Happy Valley and Mabel at the Military Hospital on Bowen Road, and I was working in the tunnel underneath Government House.
“Bombs were falling everywhere and we just went onto automatic pilot, doing our jobs. I remember it being a great shock when the Japanese finally landed on the Island.”
After the surrender, civilians were initially sent to small Chinese hotels – Anslow’s was on Des Voeux Road. “We shared beds and were provided with some food but we weren’t allowed out. We were very worried about what would happen to us.”
Anslow was eventually taken to Stanley with around 2,000 others. She remembers they were left to find bed spaces in intensely cramped conditions in St Stephens College and the pre-war staff living quarters of Stanley prison. And thus ensued three-and-a-half years of hunger, deprivation and desperate conditions. Anslow’s mother recalls a friend trying to cheer her up, reminding her it was “only for three months. Remember, Winston said so.”
“But if at that moment we had been given the power to see not just three months, but more than three years stretching before us, we just could not have borne it,” she records in her memoirs.
Perhaps the most harrowing event of the war is also documented by Anslow’s mother. While still stationed at the Jockey Club hospital, Redwood reports the rape of female medical staff by Japanese soldiers following the surrender. “The younger nurses were selected to accompany the soldiers back to their quarters, with the threat: ‘Go Jap – no come, kill all!’” she writes. “At length the poor girls came running back in great distress. Again, they (the soldiers) made a selection… none dared refuse lest we should all be slaughtered.” The situation was eventually resolved by the heroic actions of school teacher Marie Paterson, who escaped the hospital disguised as a Chinese woman and walked through the night to inform the authorities.
In the camp, the POWs were provided with two meals a day consisting of vegetables and rice and occasionally “tiny” pieces of meat, and hot water that they had to drink out of tin food boxes. “My mum dropped from 170 to 120lbs,” Anslow remembers. “Somehow we adapted to our situation, thinking that sooner or later the Japanese would be pushed out of Hong Kong. We never dreamt we would be in the camp for over three years.”
Time passed organising school lessons for the children, putting on concerts and plays, forming small study groups and organising church services for the various denominations. Despite the hunger, the outworn clothes, the cold in the winter and the anxiety about the future, Anslow says there were happy times. “We were generally not a miserable lot.”
“I think the war made me more tolerant,” she says. “Eating, sleeping and living in such cramped conditions, you had to accept other people’s habits. Pre-war I only mixed with British people, but in the camp I made friends with Eurasians, Chinese women married to British soldiers, Dutch, Belgians and Americans, so my outlook broadened. I also take notice of refugees on television, remembering when I was in that situation myself.”
Anslow met her husband, Frank, in the camp, and after the war they married and had five children, finally leaving Hong Kong in 1959. She re-visited Stanley with her sister Olive in 1986 and admits it hadn’t changed that much. “But when I returned with family in 2008, it seemed very different. Overbuilt, air conditioning boxes everywhere, shop staff who didn’t seem to speak much English – and I have never in my life seen so many taxis!”
Post-war, Anslow stayed in touch with ex-POWs and says the Stanley internet group has brought her in contact with the descendants of ex-internees and revived her memories of the bitter war years.
“But my lasting memories of Hong Kong are happy ones – the thrill of coming into the harbour with Kowloon to one side and the mountains of the Island on the other, of beautifully coloured evening skies, and of my courting days with Frank, walking together on the Peak.”
Tin Hats & Rice by Barbara Anslow is published by Blacksmith Books.
October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to raise awareness, Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation (HKBCF) is hosting a fundraising walk on the Peak. The three-and-a-half kilometre Pink Walk for Breast Cancer follows the Peak Circle Walk, taking in some of the city’s most stunning views. Participants need to be aged three years and above (three to 13 year olds must be accompanied by an adult) and are invited to come dressed in pink. There will be awards for Best Dressed and Top Fundraiser. This is HKBCF’s flagship annual fundraising event – the charity works to support breast cancer awareness, providing medical and emotional support for both patients and their families.
Breast cancer is now the most common cancer affecting women in Hong Kong, with around ten diagnoses each day. HKBCF recommends women minimise their risk with moderate exercise (Journal of American Medical Association recommends at least four hours a week); weight control (the recommended BMI is between 18.2 and 25); stress management; limited alcohol consumption; a healthy diet – wholegrain foods and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale can lower oestrogen levels and reduce risk; and of course regular breast checks with your GP.
Pink Walk for Breast Cancer takes place on October 21, 8.15am-1pm, Peak Road Garden, enrollments cost $350/individual entrant and must be made by October 7, hkbcf.org
Hotel Icon is supporting ‘Pinktober’, or Breast Cancer Awareness month, with a pink-themed ‘Pink Sensation Afternoon Tea’. According to executive pastry chef Danny Ho, Hotel Icon will be making a generous donation to the Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry (‘The Registry’) in support of their efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer. The Registry is a non-government charity organisation supporting Hong Kong’s high risk breast cancer programme by providing free access to genetic screening and consultation for under-privileged, high-risk breast cancer patients and their families. The tea features savory and sweet treats including taramasalata with caviar, pastrami reuben sandwiches, shrimp salad on toast, vanilla strawberry rose panna cotta, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a swan-shaped raspberry coulis with rose choux. The hotel will be gifting a Pink Sensation drink to every guest who wears pink to show their support. Diners can also enjoy unlimited Haagen Dazs pink ice cream as well as a $50 Haagen Dazs cash voucher.
Pink Sensation Afternoon Tea is available 3-5pm and 5-7pm until November 30, $288/person or $546 for two. hotel-icon.com
French crystal inspo
Sheraton has partnered with luxury French crystalware producer Lalique for a themed afternoon tea in the hotel’s Sky Lounge. Soak of some of the city’s most spectacular views along with a yummy tea. Mon Premier Cristal Afternoon Tea has been inspired by Lalique’s Mon Premier Cristal fragrance collection. Every tea diner receives three miniature Lalique Mon Premier Cristal fragrance miniatures served alongside the tea, Sensuel, Tendre and Lumiere. The tea is, of course, divine, featuring a Mont Blanc of raspberry and lychee, a nutty peach tart with almond and white chocolate, a strawberry and lychee pink choux and a pink Oreo cake filled with blackcurrant cream. Savoury items include foie gras with peach gel and coconut snow, lobster and beetroot sandwiches, crab meat tartlets and crispy-coated Iberico ham croquettes. And for an additional $30 you can treat yourself to a Rosy Garden cocktail which is whipped up using strawberry and rose sorbet with dried rose petal, pineapple juice and milk.
Mon Premier Cristal Afternoon Tea is available 3-6pm (weekdays) and 2-6pm (weekends and public holidays) until October 31, $338/person. marriott.com
Best of British
Gough’s on Gough is celebrating its first birthday on Gough Street with a classic British afternoon tea. Tea-drinking is a national pastime in the UK and the cake-accompanied breakin the middle of the afternoon is said to have come about back in the mid-nineteenth century when the Duchess of Bedford complained of a ‘sinking’ feeling towards late afternoon. So she took to her boudoir with a pot of tea and some bread and cake. Her friends began to join her and the event flourished into what it has become today. The New British Afternoon Tea Experience includes a selection of savouries and sweets served with tea or coffee on vintage china hand-picked in the UK. Delicate finger sandwiches contain British classics such as poached chicken and tarragon mayonnaise; beef and wholegrain mustard; and smoked Scottish salmon with creme fraiche and cucumber. Homemade raisin scones are served warm with clotted cream and jam. Shared desserts from the tea stand include lemon and mascarpone mousse, chocolate and orange dome cake and carrot cake with buttercream.
The New British Afternoon Tea is available on Saturdays only, $248 per person or $488 for two. Goughsongough.com
Brilliant birdcages at Shangri-La
The Kowloon Shangri-La is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 37th birthday with a pink-infused tea. And you can add sparkle to the event with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose in honour of the 200th birthday of the first blended rose by the formidable Madame Clicquot. The stunningly instagrammable tea arrives in a birdcage and takes jam to another level with its hand-crafted raspberry, sakura and Champagne offering, perfect slathered over the with cranberry scones. There’s also pink rose Champagne and lychee jelly, plus savoury treats including Balik-style salmon on blini, and lobster salad and beet sandwiches. Additional extras if you’re enjoying a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose include yellowfin tuna tartare brioche with ricotta cream and pink pepper-blanched peaches, goat cheese tortilla wafer served with blackberry compote and confit orange zest, and watermelon and rose petal shooter with white chocolate palmier.
Tea is served from 2-5pm, Monday to Friday, $498 for two without Champagne, or $698 for two with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose and special items. Shangri-la.com
Fresh pasta favourite Pici has opened a third venue, this time in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Hart Avenue pasta bar features homemade, no-fuss pasta featuring favourites such as melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, creamy burrata and shaved truffle dishes, as well as luscious rolls of comforting pici pasta. The Pirata Group restaurant launch follows Pici openings in Wan Chai and Central.
Vintage trinkets and antique artwork line the walls of the cosy venue, with a long marble bar from which diners can watch the chefs hard at work rolling out and shaping the pasta.
Pici is a no-reservations restaurant open for brunch, lunch and dinner. pici.hk
Box of Hope, Hong Kong’s popular annual Christmas charity-drive, is back again this year and is now asking for donations and volunteers.
School students are being asked to decorate and fill a shoebox with suitable gifts for delivery to underprivileged children throughout Hong Kong and Asia. Gift items could include stationery, toiletries and a fun toy.
This year the charity hopes to collect a mammoth 33,000 boxes and has so far received support from a number of Hong Kong-based corporates, including Meridian Capital, Wooloomooloo Group, Clifford Chance, Halfords, The Lion Rock Press, Bloom&Grow, Dachser, Redbox Storage, Wah Yuen stationery and Allen & Overy.
The charity will also again be running its popular box design competition. Winners will be invited to help hand deliver Boxes of Hope to children living in Hong Kong. To enter, email a photo of your decorated box to firstname.lastname@example.org before November 15.
All filled and wrapped boxes should be delivered to your school collection point November 5-9.
For more information, to volunteer with box collection of distribution, or to sign your school up as a collection point, see boxofhope.org
Following a month-long 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 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. The dining area is more spacious than before, with cute creative touches such as birdcages decorating each table, and the private lounge has been transformed into a welcoming bar – a useful addition for aperitifs or digestifs that gives you yet more opportunity to soak up the dramatic city views. Helming the kitchen is chef Martin Mak, a barbecued meat specialist boasting decades of experience, so you can rest assured your Peking duck – hand-carved at the table – is in safe hands. Expect plenty of tasty northern China favourites and dim sum – but with the venue’s stunning outlook over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island, attention is bound to be diverted away from your plate. hutong.com.hk
Pacific Place is partnering with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum this month to present Shoes: Pleasure & Pain. The exhibition arrives in Hong Kong after a six-month tour of China and features 140 pairs of shoes, both old and new, from around the globe. Included in the collection is footwear that dates back to the first century BC, as well as modern day designs by Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Roger Vivier for Christian Dior, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Vivienne Westwood, as well as shoes worn by Elton John and the Queen Mother. Exclusive to the Hong Kong leg of the tour are 14 pairs from the private collection of actress, singer and fashion icon, Karen Mok.
“Every shoe in the exhibition has a story to tell,” curator Helen Persson told Hong Kong Living. “But one of my favourites is a pair of gold painted shoes by French designer Andre Perugia. They date to about 1940 and the design is spectacularly modern. They were worn by socialite and pilot Cecile Tonge Stuart, one of the world’s first female aviators.”
One of the most dramatic exhibits is a pair of ‘qabqabs’ – or sandals worn for the baths during the Ottoman Empire. At 28.5cm tall they are the highest footwear in the exhibition and were a potent symbol of wealth and status.
The Asian leg of the tour has been co-curated by Swire Properties and included stops in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou. Pacific Place will be the final venue. The exhibition will be returning to London at the end of October for a well-deserved rest – and no doubt to put its feet up.
Shoes: Pleasure & Pain runs until October 28, with free entrance, 10am-9.30pm, Garden Court, LG1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong. shoes.swireproperties.com