Category Archives: Hong Kong

Unbeaten by Rain: An Art Exhibit (HK)

Here’s the complete photo of Haruka’s painting that I had previously talked about here (and where you can see photos of it when it was in the middle of being painted). The piece is titled Mother and Child. I’d really recommend clicking on the picture to see it in full size so you get an idea of the textures.


Her solo exhibit runs from 22 February 2013 to 22 March 2013 in the art gallery in Yew Chung International School – Secondary (3 To Fuk Road) in Kowloon Tong. Opening hours are from 3:30PM to 7PM. I’ll be going to the opening reception!


This Is What It Looks Like

This is what it looks like when your Filipino friends in HK get together for Chickenjoy and Magic Mic karaoke!




An Amazing Thing

My friend Haruka is a fine artist in terms of being 1) an actress, 2) a painter, and 3) as someone I can talk to well beyond midnight about art and the importance of interpretation.  One of the things I most appreciate about dropping by her and her husband Gabe’s house is seeing her canvasses lined up against the walls.  She’s always working on something new and always asking me what I think and what I see. (I own one of her paintings too. It’s of Mont Saint-Michel and I hang it above my desk at work. I’ve gotten quite a number of good comments about it from my colleagues).

She’s having a solo exhibit here in Hong Kong on February. It’ll be named unbeaten by rain after the poem by Kenji Miyazawa. (I helped her come up with that title in English so she can have a line that scans well. There, I just had to say that.) The centerpiece will be a big painting that has fantastic color and presence. It’s her best work to date. I was so impressed by it I asked for the photos she had taken of her progress during the mere few weeks it took her to complete the painting.














I have photos of the completed painting but she doesn’t want them public just yet. (She wants a proper photo of it to show; these were taken on an iPhone.) I’ll put the proper photos up once she sends them to me and when it’s closer to the exhibit date. UPDATE: You can see the completed painting here. In the meantime, I want to try to understand how something like the second picture could turn into something like the second to the last. There’s a freedom and trust in the process that I try to have more of in my own writing.

And also: I’m fricking proud of my friend.

The Kai Tak Heart Attack

This is a very iconic photograph of Hong Kong found in many souvenir shops and books; a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-367 descending into the middle of Kowloon City to land on the old Kai Tak airport right below. Kowloon City is surrounded on three sides by mountains, on one by the South China Sea, AND ON EVERY SIDE BY APARTMENTS, and planes had to go very low over the rooftops before a dramatic last-minute turn to align themselves with the runway. Landing there used to be called the Kai Tak Heart Attack.


Kai Tak closed on July 1998 (and Hong Kong International Airport moved to Chek Lap Kok, where it is now and where landings are much less thrilling). The photograph was taken by Daryl Chapman just weeks before the old airport closed. I have very vague memories of what it felt to be on a plane landing there when I was much younger (I do remember that the experience of landing on Hong Kong used to be much more scenic than it is now. Now it’s just…water, water, water, bump, oh we’re here. No more peeking into people’s apartments to see what they’re watching on TV).

Anyway, since it’s my sixth year now of living in Hong Kong, I thought it was high time that I bought an original 12″ x 15″ photo print of it. Which I did this afternoon. It’s a great reminder of how I’ve never had a single moment of boredom in Hong Kong.

I’m leaving here a video of a Malaysia Airlines 747 doing a Kai Tak Heart Attack from back when. LOOK AT THAT EFFING TURN AT 0:33 and how the plane straightens itself immediately and slips into the middle of town like it’s no big deal. Terrifying.

I’m going to this event!!

Got invited to the VIP reception and premiere screening and after party at the W! And on the last day of classes too! Score. Thanks so much, Danny!


Clockenflap Music Festival 2012

Sooo….Clockenflap 2012!


(Photo by Ricko)



(Photo by Ricko)


This year’s was held at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, close to Elements. I went with Ricko, my Indonesian friend from Beijing who’s here in Hong Kong looking for a job, to the December 1 event, 12-pm – 10pm, 390 HKD per head. We got there at 2pm after lunch at Stormies at the Civic Square terrace (fancy!) in Elements. Weather wasn’t at its best; I was pointing out to Ricko the Ozone bar on the 118th floor of the ICC but the top of the building was totally covered by fog.

Anyway, Clockenflap! where coupons were currency.


(Photo by Ricko)

Luckily it wasn’t too crowded then and we could get pretty close to the stages during all the performances. Sets were half an hour each.


Stuart Lennon and Marie Witt. Acoustic rock. (Photo by Ricko)


The Sleeves. Arcade rock (at least that’s what they call it). (Photo by Ricko)


Buskers playing gypsy music.

bella elektra

Bella Elektra. Jazz hip hop. (Really enjoyed this one.)


Poubelle International. Indie rock. (Photo by Ricko)


Tom Read / The Vine Band. Christian rock (though the stuff they played there were more pop).


OK. I did not expect to see Sandwich here!!! Sandwich is a rock band from Manila / home. They were given a great introduction from one of the event organizers and they played an AWESOME, AWESOME set. They were a huge hit and got the crowd totally worked up. (“I just wanna go to the beach!” “SUNBURN!” is now stuck in my head.) More Sandwiches!




Shamus Dark and Eugene Pao. Noir jazz, that’s the best I can put it. (Photo by Ricko)

Ricko and I left around 5:30pm, though the party and the crowds were only really starting by then, but we were pretty tired. I got my Clockenflap T-shirt and the Hungry Ghosts EP and had a good, decadent dinner at Spaghetti House back in Jordan.

Til next year!


Recording session photos!

In the cold and drizzle of last Sunday, my friend Cyrus (vocals, rhythm guitar, bass), Candice (keyboards), James (cajon drum, backing vocals) and I (lead guitar) were recording at Koya Hisakazu’s studio in Sheung Wan! A lot of of local bands (even Beyond) have had their albums recorded and mixed by Koya and it was a fantastic learning (and adrenalinic) experience for me. Cyrus wants to release an EP next year and he invited me to play lead for one of his songs, “Never Too Late”, and hopefully we can collaborate more in the future. Last Sunday we put down the guide track and got my and James’ tracks down as well. Pics of me and James! Cyrus and Candice will be finishing their tracks one of these weeks.

Here’s an interview with Koya Hisakazu in HK Magazine and a vid below of Cyrus at Backstage Bar playing bass and doing backing vocals. I’m totally looking forward to doing more of this.

The HK International Literary Festival 2012: Part 2

October 14 – The Writers Symposium: Part 3 of 3

Convocation Room, University of Hong Kong

This particular symposium was divided into 2 sessions. The first was The Writer’s Desk: Vision, Revision, and Circulation, which focused on revising and editing a work before sending it in. Panelists were Paige Richards, Michelle Sterling, Jennifer Wong, and Paul French, who read before and after excerpts from their work. Again, can’t say I heard anything I’d never heard before. I’m really of the opinion that when it comes to the writing process, there are so many ways of doing it right that if you’ve been doing it for a while, someone endorsing a particular way of doing it wouldn’t necessarily stick in your head.

The second session was The Writer in Hong Kong – Getting Published. Now this is the sort of thing that does tend to stick – brass tacks of the business. It was chaired by Christopher Munn from Hong Kong University Press, who was joined by Kelly Falconer from the Asia Literary Review, copyright lawyer Andrew Cobden, and Martin Merz, a translator. I’ll list here the salient points:

  • Don’t cold call editors.
  • You don’t necessarily need an agent for your novel but you should get one anyway if you can. Agent’s fee is usually at 15%.
  • There’s no such thing as a standard contract. Or a standard print run. Everything is always negotiable.
  • Do simultaneous submissions.
  • Don’t turn up your nose at small publishing houses. Don’t limit yourself or second-guess your demographic. A publication is a publication is a publication.
  • Copyright is assigned. An author’s moral rights over a publication are waived or not waived. Most of the time, publishers will try to get you to waive your moral rights.

After the session, I talked a bit with Kelly Falconer and Martin Merz and his wife Jane. And was enjoying myself so much that I found myself sharing a cab with them all the way to…

October 14: Closing Party: The Last Course

Mariners’ Rest, Hullett House

…where I Guinnessed up and took in the scene of the festival panelists all in one room. (Small room though.) Chatted with Sudhir Vadaketh, from The Economist, and his wife, as well as Gioia Guerzoni, a translator from Italy who was here on the way to a translator’s conference in Bangkok. Had a good time with Martin, Jane, and Gioia, and eventually we left Hullett and crossed the harbor to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central, which Martin is a member of (and apparently of the board as well that gets to decide what gets to be in the menu). Food was great and we also met Alberto, Gioia’s friend, who works as an architect here.

I had to leave early because I had class the next day but that was a great Sunday spent. Love all the business cards you get at the end of these things.

(Part 1 here.)

The HK International Literary Festival 2012: Part 1

October 11 – Dr. Hari Harilela Lecture Theatre, Shaw Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

Between Europe and China: Fostering Cultural Creativity and Inter-cultural Dialogue: A Roundtable Discussion on Hong Kong-European Dialogues in Literature and Culture

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Bit of context here, “intercultural” is a big buzzword in Hong Kong and “exchanges” and “dialogues” abound. Personally, judging from the ones I’ve attended, these events tend to feel like marketing stunts to me. The questions are just some sort of variation of these: 1. What it feels like to be (or whatever more specific verb here) in Hong Kong, and 2. How is it different from your home country. It’s not typical to progress far from that, so let’s just say I normally don’t set the bar very high.

The panel was chaired by Angela Mackay from the Financial Times and the panel members were the following: poet Jennifer Wong (Daisy’s friend, actually, who was raised in HK and is now based in London, had dinner with her before), UK poet and novelist Simon Armitage, Irish novelist John Boyne (he wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – I only watched the movie though) Prof. K.L. Chua from Hong Kong University, and Prof. Hans Ladegaard and Prof. Lo Kwai Cheung from Hong Kong Baptist University, where I work.

Most of the discussion was about how the writers’ respective countries encourage creativity VS how HK does it (or how it should anyway. Let’s not forget HK is still incredibly neo-colonial and has a huge insecurity complex when it’s being compared to Europe). It was largely very PC and there was really nothing you haven’t heard before, until John Boyne mentioned, hey, but what about the big elephant in the room when it comes to HK arts and culture? Money?

And I thought, that’s a good attempt, Mr. Boyne, there is an elephant in the room, but it’s not money that’s the biggest one. It’s race and class. Because when I hear white expats complaining about how there seems to be such a dearth of cultural events in Hong Kong, more often than not, they’re talking about the dearth of white cultural events in Hong Kong. I know because I used to think that way too and hung around similarly-minded expats, until I started to make friends with local artists. Then I went to their events (not to mention worked with them for the stage performance of my play) and realized that hey, there is actually a lot of local culture in HK. Most white people just tend not to go to these events and just assume they don’t exist. The money being poured by wealthy, commercial companies into cultural events and which people complain is against the spirit of art? Tend to be white cultural events.

And as my friend T would say, I told you three times but only in my head. Then at one point, Prof. Lo Kwai Cheung, in a burst of frustration, said that the things they were talking about in this panel were all from the white person’s point of view, who either aren’t living in HK or who live in their little expat bubble here and have no idea what it’s like otherwise. Even this literary festival, he said, isn’t this pretty much catered to white people in the first place?

That was the highlight of the evening for me. Someone applauded from the back of the room. The next time I bump into Prof. Lo on campus, I’m going to tell him that.

Next post! The Writers Symposium at HKU and the afterparty at Hullett House.

How I Spent My Mid-autumn Festival

Summary: stuffing my face.

Friday after work, Daisy and Stan and I headed to Tsim Sha Tsui for dinner at Applegreen (I totally recommend their grilled sausage platter and their mushroom spaghetti), drinks at the usual 8 Fine Irishmen, then dessert at Sweet Tooth, a new breakfast and dessert place in Carnarvon Road, which had the poster below and which made me grin because I have it in my flat too (also, a killer mango cheung fun).

From Holstee

Saturday, I lazed around the flat (the most productive thing I did was take out the trash) and watched Magic Mike with my friend Melissa. Yes, I am going to put the poster up here because it was a very entertaining movie. Yes, I am totally going there.

From ImpAwards

Sunday, the actual festival day, we had hotpot at Theresa’s flat and the following happened:

Monday (public holiday because of National Day!) Nell was here from Manila, and we went to Mui Kee to continue the stuffing of faces with shrimp deep fried in salted egg,  lamb pot, and eggplant and minced pork, then a return trip to Sweet Tooth. Then we spent the rest of the day in Gabe and Haruka’s house and played with baby Ren, and now I smell like a baby.

Tomorrow (still a public holiday!), I’m joining a band session in Wan Chai with some friends who want to do a recording or two, then Ted with Melissa and Joyce.

Then it’s back to work. asdlkjasdjhkajsd. Unreal concept after a long weekend like this.

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