Global Cultures

In a day: Hong Kong

Global Cultures - May 2015

Hong Kong, the doorway to China, has long been a cultural melting pot. From art to food, there's a fusion of east and west which makes the city unique.

A major international finance hub, Hong Kong is also the world's third largest art market. Grotto Fine Art is one of the best galleries for contemporary Hong Kong art. Located on Wyndham Street in Central, the main business district and one of several main shopping districts, it exclusively showcases new and established Hong Kong artists.

Explore Hanart TZ Gallery in the historic Pedder Building in Central to see work by contemporary Chinese artists. There are also a growing number of international galleries such as Gagosian Gallery or White Cube, both in Central, which showcase international artistssuch as Beatriz Milhazes or Rudolf Stingel. Moving on to the traditional art scene, Cat Street in Central is a popular place to bargain for jade, silk products or wood crafts. Officially called Upper Lascar Row, the street became known as a place to buy stolen goods in the 1920s. In Cantonese, stolen goods were known as “rat goods" and people who bought them are referred to as “cats." Today, the name remains.

Explore the colour of Cat Street

Nearby on Hollywood Road is Man Mo Temple, a historic building dating from 1847 that pays tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo). These two gods, traditionally popular with students wishing to succeed in civil examinations in China, are today a symbol of luck for visitors burning incense in their honour. A former British colony, Hong Kongers take afternoon tea seriously. Locals fuel themselves on milk tea, a potent mix of strong black tea and condensed milk. A pineapple bun - a soft sweet bun with a crunchy topping that resembles a pineapple (as you'd imagine) - is the perfect pairing. A pat of butter is optional.

Local eateries such as the popular chain Tsui Wah offer afternoon tea sets that are almost as filling as lunch. Be prepared to find chicken wings, soup noodles, pork chops and fishballs on the menu, along with the ubiquitous milk tea. For a bit of shopping, explore “PoHo" in Sheung Wan. Short for Po Hing Fong, this former quiet residential area is now home to low-rise tenement buildings, called “tong lau," that have recently been converted into quirky cafes, restaurants, second-hand shops, boutiques and galleries. Teakha sells seasonal teas and cakes with a twist like Keemun milk tea with red date honey and osmanthus & Okinawa black sugar chiffon cake. For drinks and a bite to eat try Mrs. Pound, which from the outside at least, looks like an old stamp shop.

Top off your day with a ride on the Star Ferry. It's one of the best bargains in the city and a great way to check out Hong Kong's skyline. If you catch the ferry right before 8pm, you'll be able to watch the nightly Symphony of Light show, casting 71 buildings in Hong Kong and Kowloon in an audacious display of coloured lights, lasers and searchlights. 


Contributing Writer: Ellen Sheng