Big Smog Blog

West Kowloon wants you!

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The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) wants your opinions on how the soon-to-be built West Kowloon Park should be operated and managed.

The 23-hectare park is set to become a major green open space in the heart of HK when it is constructed in stage from mid-2015, and will have plenty of arts and leisure facilities to boot.

From May 9 until June 29 2014, you’ll be able to complete an online questionnaire on WKCDA’s website, and tell the authority exactly how you’d like the park to be run. They’ll also be doing a series of focus group discussions.

How the WKCD Park will be operated and managed will shape the visitors’ experience, and as such this public survey will focus on the relevant matters,” says Professor John Leong Chi-yan, Chairman of the Consultation Panel of WKCDA. “We hope to create a park for everyone to share and enjoy.”

So whether you want the park to be an oasis of tranquility or an all-action, bike dog and kid friendly zone – make sure let WKCDA know about it!

Find out more at westkowloon.hk/parksurvey.

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Joyce is not here, anymore

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Photo by Roger Price

Cult artist bar Joyce is not here sadly closes after eight creative years on Peel St. Anna Cummins spoke to owner Joyce Peng about the reasons she’s calling it a night.

Peel Street will be a little quieter, and will have a lot less soul after July 28, when artist bar and cult hangout Joyce is Not Here closes its doors after eight years. Taking its name from the fact that owner Joyce Peng was often too busy with her interior design job to get to her bar, the family-run space has long been a welcome haven for creative types.

Owner Joyce Peng told Time Out about the free-spirited nature of her bar. “I like the concept of doing whatever you dream of; no rules, no boundaries... don't care about others, live your own way,” says Peng, who also runs Peel Fresco jazz bar just across the road. “For example, our opening hours are from 4:53pm until we get tired, and we have sad hour, instead of happy hour. It never really seemed like running a business, it was more freestyle.”

It’s certainly a dark day for the artistic and musical scene in Hong Kong, and there have been many people shocked and saddened by this announcement. The bar is closing for two reasons. Firstly, the rent was recently hiked by 80 percent, rendering the space simply unaffordable. Secondly, a barrage of noise complaints from neighbours has meant that the bar was shortly to lose its alcohol license. Joyce asserts that “97 percent of the noise complaints found nothing [no basis for complaint]… we have been harassed by someone who wants to kill Peel Street.”

The bar opened back in 2005. Joyce remembers ‘I just wanted to create a place to gather with designers, architects, artists, filmmakers... just like the places we always go in Toronto’. This concept café quickly developed into a hub for the local artistic scene, with the bar continuously packing an impressively eclectic schedule of performances – including poetry Wednesdays, open mic Thursdays and movie nights on Sundays, with world class Jazz on Friday and Saturdays; alongside rotating art exhibitions, band performances, jam sessions and comedy gigs. And when we ask Joyce what her personal highlights over the years have been, she simply declares, “forgive me, really (there have been) too many nice people and nice happenings here, that I can't list them at all!”

There is, thankfully, some good news though – Joyce is Not Here’s sister bar, Peel Fresco Music Lounge, is still just across the street and will, hopefully, manage to remain alive and kicking for a while yet. In the meantime, Joyce will remain as busy as ever. “I want to focus on my interior design business for a while and make some money first… aha, I have really contributed all my savings into this bar and into Peel Fresco.” Joyce also reveals that a movie about the bar is potentially in the making. “Then, I think I will start to write down all the touching stories of these eight years here on Peel Street. Maybe can find a sponsor to make a movie as well, because I also studied film making last year as a very bad student!”

The good news is that Joyce hasn’t let these events faze her. “I think I will reopen next year sometime; still in Central, but I’m not sure where or exactly when,” she says. For the bar’s final few weeks, Joyce has curated an expectedly eclectic schedule (here - on.fb.me/1dhz2Yz), which definitely deserves to be checked out.

Pay Joyce a visit and say bye before July 28, at Shop D, G/F, 38-44 Peel Street, Central.

 

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The new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal + Mariner of the Seas!

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Kai Tak
Royal Caribbean's cruise liner: The Mariner of the Seas

We head on board the Mariner of the Seas to check out Kai Tak's maiden berthing. On Wednesday 12th June, amidst much fanfare, Royal Caribbean's cruise liner Mariner of the Seas became the first vessel to dock at the new $8.2 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal. It heralds a new era in cruising for Hong Kong (yeah not that kind of cruising), with the largest ships in the world now able to dock in the harbour – something that was never possible at the smaller Ocean Terminal dock in TST.

Kai Tak
The arrivals hall looking shiny and new

The new terminal is set to transform Kowloon, boasting an immigration hall that can clear 3,000 passengers within an hour, one of the largest landscaped gardens in Hong Kong, (23,000 sq. metres) as well as a gigantic car park and transport terminus. It is capable of berthing the largest cruise ships in the world, which weigh in at well over 200,000 tonnes.

The vessel which docked in Hong Kong for two nights this week, Mariner of the Seas, is 310 metres long, holds over 3,000 passengers and is 15 stories high – yet is not even close to the size of the largest ships, which accommodate closer to 6,000 guests plus 3,000 staff. Wowzer.

Time Out went on board the Mariner this Thursday, to have a sneak peek around the new arrivals hall and the vessel itself, before its departure later that day. We grabbed a few photos for you to check out as well...

Kai Tak
The swimming pool on the cruise liner Mariner of the Seas

Many of the airport-style scanning machines in the new departures hall were still encased in their bubble wrap, indicating just how new this building is. We also proceeded to nosy around the ship itself - it's often commented that there's nothing you can't do on a cruise ship and Royal Caribbean seem to be taking that mantra very seriously, with activities ranging from ice skating to bumper cars, via theatre productions and hairdressing. Perhaps the only thing you can't do on a cruise ship is get married. Oh, wait – you can.

Kai Tak
Passenger gangway at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

Whilst environmental issues concerning the pollution of Victoria Harbour abound, cruise operators are well aware of the concerns and seem to be at least trying to reduce the impact they'll have on the harbour, using marine gas with a low sulphur content whilst in port. The future of our city as a tourism hub to rival Singapore and Shanghai is important and, despite a couple of teething troubles so far, this terminal really is set to rival the best. Anna Cummins

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Fill My Tank

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Living on the doorstep of the world’s second largest consumer of fossil fuels, and being extremely energy-hungry ourselves, there’s no surprise Time Out Hong Kong’s dedicated section for news and social issues is called Big Smog.

The search for answers to the global energy crisis, and the pollution it generates, remains an uphill battle where ‘breakthroughs’ often create more problems than they remedy, such as the detrimental effect on world hunger posed by first generation biofuel crops such as corn.

Fill My Tank, a new eco-travel show, hosted and produced by Hong Kong environmentalist Sean Lee-Davies, explores a potential solution for the smog that threatens to envelop us all. The experiment in question? Turning used cooking oil, which would otherwise be thrown away, from hazardous waste into biodiesel that produces 60 percent less emissions than regular diesel. Airing every Friday until March 15, the show will follow Lee-Davies as he drives over 2,500km from Singapore to Cambodia using the recycled fuel, with other sustainable energy pit stops on the way.

Tonight's episode has him beginning his road trip, stopping first in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; with next week's episode revealing a slightly dirtier option for renewable energy, namely pig manure…

Fill My Tank airs every Friday at 8.30pm on Cable Channel 76, and Channel News Asia.

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Rory McIlroy: Into the swing

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With towering skyscrapers in the background, Rory McIlroy teed off on Tuesday from the Peak as he inched one shot closer to this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open. The world number one golfer sent his ball soaring through the air with an effortless swing – though it didn’t quite reach Victoria Harbour. Not that he was aiming for it anyway – the water hazard would have earned him a one-stroke penalty. No, McIlroy was aiming for something else: to defend his UBS Hong Kong Open title.

The long-awaited golf tournament is set to be a cracker this weekend. And Time Out Hong Kong was there at the launch to take in the tension. It’s 23-year-old McIlroy’s sixth visit to Hong Kong Golf Club. “Hong Kong has always been a place that I really enjoy coming to,” he said at the Peak. “Hong Kong is just a great city. It’s always got a great buzz, a great atmosphere and there’s something about Fanling and the Hong Kong Golf Club I really enjoy.”

It’s been a fantastic year for the Northern Irishman. He finished top of the list in both Europe and the United States this season, and was just named the PGA of America’s Player of the Year. What he wants to do most, though, is to polish his skills and play even better next year, he says. “I just want to keep improving and keep trying to become a better golfer.”

Also playing at the championship in Fanling is 19-year-old Steven Lam. The local teenage golf star will be caddied by Tiffany Chan, 19 – another standout Hong Kong golfer. Being such young players in a star-studded field of elite golfers is, of course, nerve-wracking – but the pair say they are more than ready for the challenge. “If I’m lucky and make the cut, I’ll be happy," says Lam. “But if not, I won’t be upset.”

Chan has caddied for Lam many times and hopes to use what knowledge she has to help. “I’m another person who can help with the on-course decision making,” she says. “I hope he can enjoy the game and if he plays well, he’ll make the cut.”

The UBS Hong Kong Open tees off on Thursday November 15 at the Hong Kong Golf Club and takes place over the weekend. See ubshongkongopen.com for details. Mary Hui

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Say cheese!

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Who doesn't like to carry a camera around Hong Kong and take a shot of anything from the city at night to that hotpot you enjoyed with friends last week? We all love to think we're world-class photographers here but, let's face it, not all photos are worthy of a place on your wall. Sometimes it's best to leave it to the pros. Step forward Michael Yamashita, who has produced a series of gems in his new book Shangri-La: Along the Tea Road to Lhasa. A famed National Geographic photographer for years, Yamashita brought a taste and some tales of Tibet to share with a packed house of Hongkongers on October 2 at the Kelly and Walsh store located in Pacific Place. For more on the event, see kellyandwalsh.com.

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Social media heaven

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Does social media matter these days? You’re damn right it does! It’s been a veritable revolution online over the past few years – and those who went along to Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel on Friday last week were testament to its power.


More than 500 people attended the Social Media Matters conference organised by Ogilvy & Mather and Branded. The firms brought together industry leaders and provided the lowdown on using social media as a business tool. Doesn’t sound too sexy? Think again – from Facebook, Twitter and Weibo to just about every major social media outlet was included in the lively discussion and there was plenty of food for thought.


Social media experts were flown in and took the stage, including Douban founder Yang Bo, Google big-shot marketer Gopi Kallayil and Twitter market development vice president James Kondo, just to name a few. CEO of WPP Group Sir Martin Sorrell also participated in the day’s festivities and spoke to the audience from an off-sight location via video chat Google+ Hangouts. Hong Kong singer-songwriter G.E.M. performed and spoke at the event, crediting her popularity to the use of social media. And we’d credit much of our online popularity to social media too. Amen.

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Witness a Guinness World Record at Cityplaza

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As Hysan Mall officially opens today, Causeway Bay is guaranteed a massive crowd throughout this weekend. But if you'd like to stay away from the frenzy but don't want to miss your weekend mall wander, why not consider Taikoo Shing instead? 

For three weekends, from August 9 to 26, Cityplaza's Atrium turns into a live stage showcasing 36 jaw-dropping performances. Japan's World Yo-yo Champion, Hiroyuki Suzuki, performs his Guinness World Record of 'most eli hops in 30 seconds' and other amazing take-home yo-yo tricks. The Acrobatic Breakdance Trio, comprised of b-boys Benedikt Mordstein from Germany, Saretzki Mike from Austria and Kirsch Vitali from Ukraine, also show you how to do the 'baby freeze' and undress while performing a headspin.

 

Suzuki shows you how to knock off a coin from a guy's ear with his yo-yo.

 

The bboys demonstrate how to worm over a jump rope and undress while doing a headspin. 

 

If you can't make it this weekend, next week Sweden's Peter Rosendahl demonstrates his Guinness World Record talents for 'riding the world's smallest unicycle' and 'most skipping rope jumps on a unicycle in one minute'. And don't miss our local magic master Avon Lee's attempt to break a new record for the 'most costume change illusions in one minute' at 1.30 pm on August 23. More details below:

 

Period          August 9 – 26, 2012 (Thursdays to Sundays)

Location      Cityplaza 2/F Atrium (MTR exit E1)

Organiser    Cityplaza

Admission    FREE!

Inquiry         (852) 2568 8665 or www.cityplaza.com

 

Date

Time

Performance

9 -10 August

11-12 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“World Yo-yo Champion”:  

Hiroyuki Suzuki

9 -10 August

11-12 August

1:45/3:45/6:45 pm

2:45/4:45/6:45 pm

“Acrobatic Breakdance Trio”: 

Benedikt Mordstein

Vitali Kirsch

Mike Saretzki

16-17 August

18-19 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“The World’s Fastest Unicyclist”: 

Peter Rosendahl

23-24 August

25-26 August

1:30/3:30/6:30 pm

2:30/4:30/6:30 pm

“Local Magic Master”: 

Avon Lee

Record breaking attempt at 1:30 pm on August 23

 

Text and video by Joyce Choi

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Hysan Mall is opening tomorrow!

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The long-anticipated Hysan Mall is opening tomorrow – finally. The iconic landmark is expected to draw 100,000 tourists, shoppers and diners every day. This afternoon, Time Out took a quick walk in the 17-storey shopping mall to see how it’s going to handle such a large crowd.

 

 

Among all the features the Mall promises, we raised our eyebrows at the centralised booking system. The system allows visitors to continue shopping while they wait for a table. At the second-floor concierge (served by three staff), visitors can request queue tickets for a maximum of three of the 11 restaurants located on the top floors. Instead of waiting outside restaurants doing nothing, shoppers can carry on their retail therapy and keep track of their queue numbers at the display panel available on each floor.

 

 

 

If you prefer a quickie meal, the 11th floor food court offers 11 dining options. Unlike most underground food courts, Hysan’s food court is rather spacious and equipped with plentiful cozy sofas, as well as the typical long benches. Pick a seat by the window and enjoy a rare mid-Causeway Bay panorama of the Hong Kong Stadium.   

 

 

 

Those who are mall-savvy will love the express escalators that sprawl across floors. The escalators take you on a visual journey that lifts you up from the busy Sogo horde, and if you have time to go far enough, it rewards you with an unblocked view of the Victoria Harbour. Although the escalators are indeed in express velocity, they are so narrow you can’t really walk up and down without squeezing past someone. The skinny express escalators, Time Out thinks, may not be the most suitable facility catered for impatient shoppers and tourists who walk in packs. Same for the beautifully-decorated double-deck elevators, their capacities so low they could well be the smallest mall elevators in the area.

 

 

 

To continue our theme of narrowness, we were surprised to see the narrow hallways on some of the floors. Well, it somehow calls to mind the fun time shopping at some of the really cramped shopping malls in Causeway Bay, such as The Point (at Sugar Street). Not quite exactly what we expected from the grand and gigantic appearance of the Hysan Mall.

 


 

The sky garden on the fourth floor is another highlight, supposedly offering a rare moment of open air in the over-crowded shopping mecca. To our disappointment, the sky garden resembles nothing like a garden with minimal greeneries and rather limited seating area. (Yay, we can sit on the ground!) We’re not sure how much "fresh air” you’ll get here, and it’s more likely it’ll turn into a smoking hub instead.

 

 

 

Don’t get us wrong, shops are actually big and spacious and we, too, cannot wait until they all open later this month. Just be prepared to bat through the crowds – as you do in Causeway Bay. John Yip

 

Stay tuned for our next Causeway Bay issue!

 

Top photo by Calvin Sit, others by John Yip

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Getting intimate with A&F hot guys...

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Colgate smiles, baby-smooth pecs, swoon-making abs… Abercrombie is in town! For their opening next week, the frat-tastic brand have flown in their juiciest specimens from around the world. And after dodging the screaming, estrogen-fuelled teens and office women at the photo op, we get hot and bothered at an exclusive interview with Frank, 20, from California and Henry, 22, from London.

Do you ever get cold being half-naked like that all day?
F: Ooh, that's a good question! We usually do push-ups, pull-ups to stay warm. It's actually kind of funny. We'll take rotations, some of us will go inside. We'll do, like, bear-crawls on the ground just to warm up, just do stupid little funny things, play little games like touch football.
H: Normally we get so excited and there's so much energy that it doesn't become an issue!

Is it hard being so ridiculously toned and attractive?
H: [Sighs] Naaah. Well - we have to work for it, but it's fine.
F: We definitely have to work out every day, but we’re also blessed that our parents gave us these great looks!

Do you have a Zoolander face?
F: Oh yeah! [Does it]
H:  We work on it together, actually.

How did you get scouted?
F: I was actually on a trip to California, and I just walked into The Grove [a shopping centre in LA], was walking in there and Michelle, one of the workers there actually recruited me, wrote down my details. I moved out there two months later, and boom-ba-da-bing! A year later, here I am!
H:  I was at university. My first year at university, I'd just moved to a new city in Newcastle, and, uh, a store was opening there and they were looking out for people. So I was just picked up then!

Which body part are you most proud of and why?
F: Ooh! My 'V'. I think it's more genetics than anything, I just kinda got lucky. I like it, I like it.
H:  My bum. My bum's the best bit.

Do you ever need to use chat-up lines, or do you just take your shirt off?
F: I don't take my shirt off in front of people a lot, actually. I'm more laid-back, I dont wanna be that guy. I'm not the whole Jersery Shore kinda guy. I'm more genuine - I'm from a small town in Kansas, so I actually prefer the chatting part.
H:  I find the chatting part is easier, but being bad at chatting makes it... I can't chat a girl up, I've never known how to chat a girl up! But I find if you're honest, and you say that, then you often get to know the person anyway.

Who would you say you relate to more - Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Bond or Hercules and why?
F: Ooh - that's a good one... I would say James Bond, just because he's kind of, like, sly, kind of cool, kind of laid-back, mysterious...
H: I'd say James Bond as well. I always look at myself in the mirror and think, yeah, I could pull off the tuxedo.

[Laughs] Well, maybe after Daniel Craig, you could be next in line... So what's the best thing about being a hunk?
F: Best thing about it... The things I can do for other people, just putting a smile on my face helps someone out - pretty easily.
H: Yeah, and also if you look at the excitement that we just created by the sixty of us being out the front there, was one of the most crazy and fun things I've ever seen in my life. And everyone was smiling, it wasn't just us. So that's gotta be one of the best things.

What's the most interesting thing that's happened to you while on the job?
H: Personally, I wouldn't say there's one thing that's been the most interesting, but I've got to travel to American, which I'd never been to before, I've got to come to Hong Kong, I've never been here before, I got to go to Germany, I'd never been there before, all within two years, and all thanks to the company. So that in itself has got to be one of the best things that's happened.
F: As for me, I mean I was in Kansas a year ago, just a small-town boy. Been working for the company nine months now, I've gone to seven different places: Singapore, Beijing, Shenzen, Hong Kong, Germany, London, New York. It's been probably the best thing that's happened to me. If it wasn't for the company, I'd be going to community college in Kansas, so I'm very blessed.

Do Abercrombie models ever get competitive about who's the most good-looking?
F: Ooh! Definitely! And it's more in the gym. Like, if go to the gym, we will be getting crazy in there. Like, you've never seen a bunch of animals like Abercrombie models in the gym.
H: We're try-hard. We've gotta stay how we look, otherwise – that's it!
F: It's cool too, because everybody has, like, their own little workout secrets and stuff. But when you come out here like this, everybody shares them. We don't hide any secrets, we tell everybody, and every ends up getting in better shape throughout the trip, so it's really cool.

This is for all our readers out there... what could someone do to make themselves more attractive to you?
F: Hmmm... Be themselves, don't lie. Lying is the worst quality anyone can have.
H:  Could not agree more.
F: Lying is the worst thing. Don't try and impress anybody, just be you!

Who would be your celebrity dream date, and why?
F: Carrie Underwood, Carrie Underwood! Why? Dude, if she would sing to me... Oh my God! Singing me to sleep - that would be the most amazing thing. Country girl, blonde hair, blue eyes - love it, I love it.
H: I wouldn't pick a celebrity, I don't think. I wouldn't be able to cope with it. I wouldn't be able to keep up. I'd have to stick with just staying at home, being comfortable, being happy and knowing that when I go out in town, I wouldn't have to always be in the media spotlight.
 

Video of the madness below!

Ami Jones and Gloria Cheung

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