FULL OF GIFT IDEAS & FESTIVE FEASTS TWO COOL HOME RENOVATIONS
FITNESS, FACIALS & EYELASHES MOOD MANAGEMENT
SHORT-TERM ACCOMMODATION THAT FEELS LIKE HOME
READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS LASTCHANCE TOVOTE
“I got my wife a wooden leg for Christmas. It’s not her main present – just a stocking-filler.” Can an editor’s letter just consist of a string of so-bad-they’re-good gags from Christmas crackers? After the year we’ve all had, I feel it should be allowed. But I’ll resist the temptation. Will anyone miss 2020? I doubt it. I’m sure we’ll all tell stories about it years from now (“Back in my day …”), but we’re unlikely to want to relive it. That’s why it’s nice that this quarterly magazine straddles the end of 2020, the start of 2021, and then Chinese New Year in February. It’s a three-month period where we can all enjoy some celebrations (of sorts!) but also look to the future and what hopefully will be a time of restoration and renewal. On the topic of renewal, who doesn’t love a home renovation story? We’ve got two of them in this issue, featuring two very different dwellings. Also on the makeover theme, there’s a bunch of beauty news and reviews for getting your eyes, hair, skin and more sorted. We’ve got the holidays covered, too, with a gift guide for every person in the family, and some expert advice on how to create a festive table setting at home. There’s also a sack-load of dining-out options for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and beyond. The Singapore travel bubble might be on-again, off-again, but it will happen, so we’ve included a bumper list of great things to do down there as well. Finally, don’t forget to enter our Expat Living Readers’ Choice Awards – there are some fab prizes to win, plus you get to give a shout-out to the businesses and services you love in HK. See page 10 for all the details – but be quick; voting ends on 15 December. And, to return to my original theme, if you don’t win, don’t be too upset – try to retain that sense of humour! Speaking of which: I bought my wife a world map and gave her a dart and said, “Throw this and wherever it lands, that’s where I’m taking you when the pandemic ends.” Turns out we’ll be spending two weeks behind the fridge. Cheers!
Find Christmas gifts like this guy from The Lion Rock Press on page 43!
Editor-in-Chief REBECCA BISSET Group Editor
SHAMUS SILLAR Digital Content JULIET KEYS MICHAELA BISSET Client Services & Production LEANDA RATHMELL NUR HANANI KAMAL LUDDIN Senior Graphic Designers MICHAEL BERNABE JEANNE WONG Circulation & Marketing ANNA TSERLINGAS
Sales & Marketing KATE WOODBURY Chief Operations Officer COLIN PURCHASE Contributing Writers
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UPFRONT 10 Readers’ Choice Awards 2021:
Amazing prizes up for grabs!
12 Hong Kong News HOME & LIFE 18 Home Showcase: Renovation success at Clearwater Bay 24 Arrival Accommodation: A serviced apartment that ticks all boxes 26 Home Showcase: A Kowloon home with history 30 Buying Guide: Top picks for the dining room 32 Christmas at Home: Perfecting your festive table setting 34 On the Market: A selection of top properties for rent 38 Street Talk: What it’s like living in Hung Hom Bay 43 Santa’s List: Great gift ideas for everyone 52 Christmas Quirks: Festive traditions around the globe 54 Sneak Peek: What’s new at Disneyland?
18 Village house makeover
56 Screen & Page: Top TV and book recommendations 59 Kids & Careers:
A magic castle opens! 54
Getting students future-ready
60 School’s Out:
Camp Asia is coming to HK!
43 The ultimate gift guide!
61 Learn the Lingo: Give the gift of language 62 Study Sessions:
The benefits of group tutoring
63 Boarding School: What’s a typical day like? 64 The Hong Kong Pages: Facts, trivia, history and more 66 Job Search: A 5-step action plan for finding work 68 Charity Focus: UNHCR tackles the coming winter 70 Divorce & Dignity: Choosing the right lawyer
WELLNESS & LEISURE 76 Maternity Matters: Newborns and bathing 78 Anger Management:
86 Pamper Picks:
Treat yourself this season
87 Tried & Tested: Treatments for a guaranteed glow 88 Pretty Peepers:
Learn how to do your own lashes!
The emotional cost of a pandemic
80 CBD Solutions:
89 Hair Removal:
Where to find it and how it can help
Fuss- and fuzz-free deals
82 Heart Health: Are you over-exercising? 84 Body Makeover:
90 Festive Feasts: A guide to some jolly good grub 97 From Paris with Love: Gourmet French delicacies 98 Italian Eats: A family-style resto on the Peak 100 Recipe Corner: Fail-safe favourites for your repertoire 102 Singapore Sights: Get in on the travel bubble! 106 White Wishlist: Ski destinations for 2021
Merry meals! 90
An inspiring transformation
Beauty reviews 87
REGULARS 108 Puzzle Pages 110 Important Numbers 111 Our Advertisers 112 Parting Shot:
A meditation on growing things
Ski stops for the bucket list 106
Our annual Readers’ Choice Awards are back!
Vote for your favourite businesses in Hong Kong and you could win one of these amazing prizes. Your votes will help reward businesses that have been doing a great job, and help spread the word about them – plus you’ll be rewarded with the chance to win vouchers for fun family staycations and dining, so it’s a win-win! Prize winners will be notified via email, and the results of the awards will be announced online in January 2021. Best of luck!
Staycation at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
One lucky winner will get to experience a magical family staycation amidst the resort’s 15th anniversary celebrations, while diving into Disney-themed recreation activities! 2-day-1-night staycation for two adults and two children at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel , plus four 1-day tickets for Hong Kong Disneyland .
Staycation at Kerry Hotel Hong Kong One winner will get to escape to the Kerry Hotel Hong Kong for a family staycation in two Deluxe Sea View rooms for one night, with unobstructed views over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.
Wine & Dine at Hotel ICON One winner will enjoy a Peking Duck Dinner set for two at Hotel ICON’s Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, Above & Beyond . Includes wine pairing.
You could be one of our lucky winners this year, so vote now at expatliving.hk/readerschoice
*Terms & Conditions apply.
More for Kids
B o o k a z i n e h a s o p e n e d a n e w concept store in IFC mall, right next to its existing shop. With hundreds of toys, games and activity k i t s t o c h o o s e from, the brand new store (with an
appropriate tweak on the name: Bookidzine) is toy heaven for kids in Hong Kong! It’s great timing with the holiday season upon us – whether it’s for doing the Christmas shopping, or getting some fun stuff for home for the CNY break. You can browse Bookazine’s shelves for a gift for a grown-up while little ones take their pick from Bookidzine. Shop 3092D, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall, Central. bookazine.com.hk
Sustainable homeware and lifestyle store Bamboa Home has launched the Grow Bamboo Initiative, aiming to support local
communities and economies through planting bamboo. Currently, the initiative is helping families in Nepal’s Kavre District, where one hectare has been filled so far. Bamboo is among the world’s fastest growing plants, a nutritional food source and the rawmaterial for items such as baskets, furniture and chopsticks. For every HK$100 you donate, one bamboo will be planted. Plus, you’ll receive one BOO-Coin, made of 100 percent ethically-sourced bamboo; keep it to use as a coaster, or give it as a holiday gift! Find out more at bamboahome.com/pages/grow-bamboo-initiative .
Nice Ice If you’re an ice-skating enthusiast, you’ll soon be able to show off some cool moves, with the upcoming opening of DB Ice Rink. Set to be the largest ice rink in Hong Kong (27 by 59 metres), this brand new skating experience features state-of- the-art amenities and a world-class coaching team. It caters for leisure and figure skating, ice hockey training, international competitions and more. The DB Ice Skating School will offer
New for 2021 Shrewsbury International School Hong Kong will be offering a half-day programme for students entering Nursery classes from January 2021 onwards. The programme will run from 8am to 11.30am in class groups of up to 19, with students enjoying weekly aquatics lessons alongside specialist-led music and Chinese language classes. The half- day option will also benefit those who remain at school in the afternoon, as classes will reduce in volume for the second half of the day, increasing individual contact time. Find out more by emailing email@example.com or calling 2480 1500. shrewsbury.edu.hk/news/stories
programmes for ages three and up, following the Ice Skating Institute Asia syllabus. G/F, Block C, DB Plaza, Discovery Bay, Lantau. dbicerink.com
Love Lego? Good news for little builders and other fans of the world’s most famous toy bricks; a Legoland Discovery Centre will open in K11 Musea in early 2021! The 30,000-square-foot indoor playground will take the city’s handful of Lego Certified Stores to the next level, with various rides and Lego build-and-play zones for kids to explore. The Discovery Centre Gift Shop is already open, from 11am to 8pm daily. hongkong.legolanddiscoverycentre.com
Impossible Arrival There hasn’t been much coming or going to Hong Kong lately, but one particular item of arriving cargo is welcome news. Impossible Foods, the award-winning, plant-based meat that we’ve already been enjoying in several of the city’s restaurants, has now hit HK stores. This is the first time the product has been made available outside the US. Impossible Beef is available at nearly 100 ParknShop banner stores, including ParknShop, Fusion, Taste, Food Le Parc and Great Food Hall. It’s also available for delivery through parknshop.com. Expect to pay around HK$90 for a 340g retail pack.
Help for Helpers A year after launching its new website, HelperChoice – the first digital platform to search, interview and hire foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong – is now the first online service accredited by the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This is a big step in the HelperChoice mission to improve living conditions for foreign d om e s t i c w o r k e r s , eradicate illegal agency placement fees and more through digitalisation. It means, for one thing, the service can process visas for FDWs. helperchoice.com
Virtual School Tours Want to get a glimpse into the Canadian International School of Hong Kong? In January, the CDNIS Admissions team is hosting a series of virtual events for families interested in applying to the school. Register for the Open House Webinars at 11.30am on 14 January (for Grades 3-5) and 10am on 20 January (for Grades 6-12) and learn more about the application process for both the Lower School and Upper School, as well as the Chinese Programme. More event and registration details can be found at cdnis.edu.hk/virtual-tours.
Softer Skin Independent Hong Kong vegan and natural cruelty-free skincare label Skin Need has launched two new gift sets that will make great festive gifts. Formulated for the HK climate and conditions, the limited-edition Tales of Bodies sets are available online at Skin Need’s sister brand website wokeuplikethisbeauty.com. “Carry Love Around” (HK$398) is a collection of nature-meets-science skincare signatures – a body oil and a body or hand cream; “A Lover’s Chest” ($998) is a series of skin-love products and rituals (oils, gels, sprays and creams) in an artfully designed treasure box. skinneed.com
Sneakers Galore Need new kicks? A giant Foot Locker Power Store is opening at Gala Place in Mong Kok in January. The US brand is a big name in global sports fashion, and the 20,000-square-foot flagship store will be Hong Kong’s biggest single-storey Foot Locker outlet. Different zones will focus on different sports and brands (think Adidas, Nike, Puma, Reebok and Vans), while the “House of Hoops” is a special basketball concept area in the store. footlocker.hk
New Nail Bar Wong Chuk Hang has a new hidden gem! Urban Chillez offers a new definition in nail art, with a service that includes chic and stylish themes all year round, plus some seasonal editions to match the mood and help spice up your look for different occasions. All its products are cruelty-free and eco-friendly, and the nail bar also takes pandemic precaution very seriously, employing state-of-the-art air filters and disinfectants. Not only that, but there are complimentary drinks – including house wine – and even a lunch package if you’re taking a break from work! 2A E-Tat Industrial Building, 4 Heung Yip Road. 5597 4277 | urbanchillez.com
GoingMeatless Hong Kong-based Ovolo Hotels is the first hotel group to go entirely vegetarian across its restaurants, bars and food services for a year. The designer chain – which also has properties in Australia – has phased out meat and is focusing on plant-based cuisine and fresh locally-sourced produce. Ovolo has also revamped its room service menus with a range of tasty vegetarian dishes. This move is the latest in the group’s series of eco- friendly initiatives. ovolohotels.com
Beautiful Blooms Here’s a beautiful gift idea if you have friends or family in the UK. The Real Flower Company creates luxury bouquets from exquisitely scented roses, flowers, herbs and foliage grown on its own English and Fairtrade sustainable farms, and delivers them to most UK postcodes. The company is offering a 10 percent discount on its stunning Christmas flowers and wreaths for EL readers. Just go to realflowers.co.uk/expat-living-magazine- christmas-collection for the details, and use the offer code “ELM10” at checkout. The offer is valid until 22 December.
High-speed Sportswear McLaren Automotive and British premium sportswear brand Castore have collaborated to debut their first sportswear collection for men. It’s a lightweight technical capsule collection that takes inspiration directly from McLaren’s modern design and use of lightweight materials to improve performance. The limited-edition collection offers style and comfort in its range of cotton T-shirts, performance tops and outerwear. Shop online at castore.com – and the good news is that there’s free shipping to Hong Kong on all orders!
Lightweight Lappy The brand-new FE Series of laptops by VAIO is now available in Hong Kong. The super compact series aims for minimalism in every design detail; it’s slim and carefully proportioned, yet still with the performance you need to handle a busy business or workload – a 10th-generation Intel Core processor, for starters, plus a solid-state extra-capacity drive and 16GB of memory. Find it in two screen sizes (14.1 and 15.6 inch) at exclusive retailers and nexstmall.com, from HK$8,990. nexstgo.com
Jolly Jams Looking for a great gift idea, or just want to lift your breakfast game? Hong Kong-based Wanna Jam uses fresh ingredients to produce handmade, small-batch, no-preservative jams and butters. The company likes to keep things simple, with no artificial preservatives and a no- or low-sugar policy for its products. You can order their signature items – Berry Jam (HK$168), Osmanthus Honey ($168), Peanut Butter ($98), Apple Cinnamon Butter ($98) and more – via their socials (@ wannajamhk) or email, or at select design stores around HK. Keep an eye out for their holiday hampers, too! 6011 2694 | firstname.lastname@example.org
That Time of Year: Making your home warm and festive
KOWLOON CALLING • DINING ROOM PICKS • PROPERTIES FOR RENT TV & BOOK REVIEWS • CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS • JOB HUNT
Reno PHOTOGRAPHY COLIN SIM
A quick-fire makeover of a village house delivers impressive results.
After more than 15 years in Hong Kong, Dutch expat NICOLE HESSING decided it was time to dip her toe into the property market. The village house she purchased in Clearwater Bay was in reasonable condition – she felt that it wouldn’t need much more than a décor update. A new experience After considering an initial quote from a renovation company, Nicole decided to go it alone. She would source the materials herself, and use local tradesman, trying to be reasonably thrifty and stick to a modest budget. “Since this was my first time buying a property in Hong Kong, it was quite a daunting experience,” she says. “Of course, you can’t actually get a quote for a renovation until you own the house, so you need
to mentally prepare for some unexpected surprises – and have a contingency budget!” Nicole spent some time planning and researching the renovations, including getting inspiration and ideas from Pinterest. But she was confident with her interior design style, having already built a (stunning!) home in Phuket. “I would say my style is modern contemporary, with lots of accessories and art from global travels – including an Asian influence.” The Thailand project also meant she had practical experience, which was so useful when it came to renovating her Hong Kong home. Of course, as with every makeover, there were still challenges in store. “The short time for the renovation was probably the biggest thing,” says Nicole. “Also, I was actually travelling and out of the country for most of the time.
Who lives here: Nicole and her two children, her brother and two dogs Type of
home: Village house Size of
home: 2,100 square feet Location: Clearwater Bay
HOME & LIFE
So, I had to arrange things remotely throughWhatsApp calls and across time zones, which was sometimes tricky. Fortunately, my brother was there on the ground to help project manage.” A new look Nicole sourced lots of furniture for the house from AsiaXPAT, saving plenty of money in the process and doing the right thing by the environment at the same time. She also upcycled several existing pieces using Frenchic Furniture Paint. The walk-in wardrobe doors are by B&B Italia, and were obtained from a friend who had them left over from a renovation project. Furniture aside, there are some lovely details throughout the house. For example, Nicole replaced all the light switches, and had bespoke lights made for above the kids’ beds: a Death Star from Star Wars above son Stijn’s bed, and a fairy-tale forest for daughter Izabella’s room. Another nice touch is the custom-made metal nosing placed on the stairs and skirting boards. Most of the materials were sourced from the stores in various streets in Mong Kok – Bute, Portland, Mong Kok, Nathan and Hong Lok Streets, for example. Nicole found the owners very helpful in general – happy to chat through all the various options and pricing, and, of course, open to negotiation.
You need to mentally prepare for unexpected surprises when renovating – and have a contingency budget!
Kitchen, bathrooms and beyond Nicole would have liked a newkitchen – including raising the height of the counter for her tall family! – but the budget didn’t stretch quite that far. Instead, she re-covered the cupboards and added new handles. There was one splurge, however: the tiles – they’re one of her favourites, and quite expensive. The kitchen was also rewired for both UK and Dutch sockets so the family can use their Dutch appliances without adapters. They all love to cook, including 12-year-old Izabella, who is a fantastic baker. Nicole is hoping to put in a new kitchen soon. The priority for now, though, is to install a solar panel system on the village house roof. With the bathrooms, the idea was for a simple refurb. However, there were three layers of existing tiling, which meant the whole lot had to be ripped out and redone – one of those nasty surprises that can come along with a renovation! The rest of the house received new flooring, too – a combination of timber and tiles, which were laid after a comprehensive termite treatment. One home reno “hack” that Nicole used to good effect was spray-painting the air-conditioners. They were all in good working order, but had become discoloured (“nicotine
HOME & LIFE
One priority for the new year is to install a solar panel system on the roof
yellow!”); so she sprayed them all when repainting each room. They look like new. She also didn’t like the brown-coloured doors and door posts in the house. Those got a spray, too, for a new lease of life and to keep them in line with the rest of the interior. Elsewhere, newdoor handles replaced the typical roundHong Kong doorknob; floors were spruced with rugs from Overstock – Nicole’s bathroommirror and wall cabinets are also from there; and the blinds and curtains were custom made with fabric from Altfield Interiors. If you’re keen to touch up your own home, look for the store’s sample sales, held several times a year.
Altfield Interiors (fabric for blinds) 1101 Nine Queen’s Road, Central 2524 4867 | altfield.com.hk Excellent Tiles Company (kitchen tiles) Portland Street, Mong Kok Overstock (bathroom basins) overstock.com Sincere Decoration Materials (doors and door handles) Mong Kok Road Wah Kee Metalware Company (skirting and staircase strips) Portland Street, Mong Kok Wingo Building Materials (light switches) Mong Kok Road Woodrite (wardrobes and bathroom cabinets) Kung Yip Street, Kwai Chung A final word In all, the project took three months to complete. The family moved in after two months, so there was the usual tip-toeing around tradesmen for a short period at the end. If Nicole had her time again, she’d probably have given herself more breathing room with the schedule. “A renovation project of this size would normally take around four months. I’d like to have allowed for that extra time to get everything completely finished, without putting toomuch stress on ourselves – and on the local tradesmen!” Despite the slight rush, though, the results are impressive. So, does Nicole have a favourite new-look area of the house? “Definitely my master bedroom and bathroom. I have the best-ever walk-in wardrobe, my bathroom gives me a sense of peace and relaxation, and my bedroom allows for sufficient space for me to get the rest I need; I just wish I could spend more time sleeping!” Recommendations
Every time I go to Hong Kong, it’s like it’s the first time. There’s always a new area to stay in, a new walk to do, or a different style of neighbourhood to explore. This time, I discovered a section that’s high up in the middle of Hong Kong Island – a vast area of impressive hills and natural parkland that I had no idea even existed. Thirty years ago, the Hwang family built Hong Kong Parkview , a mix of apartments and serviced residences in this most remarkable part of the island – Tai Tam Country Park. No surprise, then, that the views from Parkview are superb – my room looked over miles of forest; yet, the property is only a 15-minute drive to Wan Chai. Pets are allowed to stay here, so if you’re moving to Hong Kong with a dog, it’s the perfect place to stay until you get settled. Fido will appreciate the countryside, too! If you’re looking for a place to live in Hong Kong – particularly if you’re moving here and want an easy landing pad – a serviced apartment can be a godsend. For some helpful perspective for newcomers, here’s what Rebecca from Expat Living’s Singapore office discovered at one such property on a recent visit. … in Hong Kong’s highlands
A town and a home Parkview is like a mini town, and at its heart is the Clubhouse, which includes a membership element. For many Hong Kong- based families, it’s a home away from home – or maybe I should say a fun day away from home. At the Clubhouse, there’s an impressive kids’ indoor area (including a rock-climbing wall), swimming pools, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a massive gym and fitness area, along with heaps of classes and workshops for children of all ages. There’s also a toy and clothes shop and even a Fusion ParknShop supermarket, which has a really good selection of food. As I was in a one-bedroom apartment for my stay, I had some basic evening meals in – I found a walnut and raisin
HOME & LIFE
rye bread that was delicious! If you’re having business lunches during the day, it’s great to have the option of a lighter meal at night. If you do want to eat out, there are some excellent restaurants in the Clubhouse – all are for members or serviced apartment residents only. Breakfast is always on offer, too, and can be included in your package. I must talk about the art collection! Throughout the Clubhouse, there are sculptures, wall hangings and paintings, and a dedicated gallery that includes famous international artists – I spotted a Degas – along with traditional and contemporary Chinese art. It really is incredible – the kind of artworks you would find in galleries in the capitals of the world! Getting into nature The property has a very homely feel and I just loved looking out onto the hills. I also left the curtains open at
I loved looking out onto the hills; I left the curtains open at night, so I could wake up to the view.
Hong Kong Parkview is at 88 Tai Tam Reservoir Road. For more information, call 2812 3456, email email@example.com or visit hongkongparkview.com. In all, I would love to spend a lot longer at Parkview. There are so many things to like about it as an accommodation option, plus it’s great to have the cooler weather for hiking – compared to Singapore anyway! night, so I could wake up to the view. At night, the landscape changed and you could see the lights of the city in the distance. The staff are lovely, and they’re really good at making sure you have the right information. I wanted to do a hike so they printed off a map for me, and off I went. There are loads of trails in the vicinity of Parkview: to the right is the Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail; to the left, Stage 2 of the Wilson Trail, leading to Jardine’s Lookout and Mount Butler; and just across the road are Violet Hill and The Twins. I’m not sure I took the right path because it was a lot more challenging than I thought. The views were breathtaking – as was the climb! In the end, I wimped out halfway along and turned down to end the walk at Repulse Bay Beach instead of going all the way to Stanley. Next time... In any case, you can take the bus to Stanley Market from there, or just head back “home” for a nice long bath, as I did.
JEROMEBARTY-TAYLORwanders through hiswalk-up on the edge of Kowloon Tong, giving us some insights into the home and its historical features.
well as providing academic interventions for young people with dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADD/ADHD. My work life is very varied and never dull. My team works with a lot of teenagers who come to us with pre- determined expectations about their own academic performance, which we challenge through mentoring. Work is always busy; at present, I’m not taking on new students and already have awaiting list for August 2021! Where is your home in Hong Kong? I’ve lived in and around Prince Edward for the past seven years. My previous flat was in an old tong lau very close to the MTR. My current home is between Prince Edward RoadWest and Boundary Street, close to St Teresa’s Church. How long have you lived there? With enhanced social distancing and more working from home this year, I decided I needed a break from my old place. I’d also been living in the middle of the protest zone around Prince Edward station during the 2019 social unrest, which presented its own set of challenges. I made the jump to the new place in May of this year and couldn’t be happier.
Where are you from originally? I was born in Scotland but ran off to Australia as a teenager. I finished school and was an undergraduate there before completing graduate work at Oxford. When and why did you come to Hong Kong? Different parts of my family have been in Hong Kong for a long time, so I used to visit once a year or so if I was stopping over between London and Melbourne. I suppose the idea of settling here occurred to me as a teenager because it was halfway between the two. I certainly had no idea what I would do here. I arrived in Hong Kong in 2013 after completing my Masters at Oxford. The cliché is to say you were planning to be here for two years. I probably only planned to be in Hong Kong for six months, but then I was headhunted for a job and one thing led to another. For readers who may not be familiar with BartyED, tell us about your work here. BartyED is a boutique educational and private tutoring consultancy. We work with students of all ages who wish to excel academically, supporting all major curricula (for example, IB, A level and AP) as
HOME & LIFE
Tell us a bit about the location; what’s notable about it? The area is steeped in local history being on the edge of Kowloon Tong, which wasn’t much developed until the 1920s. The first generation of houses in this area were large mansions that were largely displaced by mid-rises in the 1960s and 70s, and some of those again in the 2000s. St Teresa’s Church was a local landmark when it was completed in 1932, seemingly having been partly paid for by none other than Il Duce himself. (The embossed name of the Italian dictator has fortunately been removed from the commemorative plaque inside!) That was just five years before my father was born. I suppose that always makes one feel closer to the events of the past. What type of home is it? It’s a 1950s colonial-style walk-up – around 1,700 square feet. The building is in family ownership
and so had retained many lovely original features including 60-year-old year old parquet flooring and delightful modernist picture rails. My partner is currently based in Sydney and can’t travel because of COVID-19; I’m really extraordinarily fortunate to have so much space for one person. We hear it has an interesting history; can you give us some insight into this? Like many buildings of its time, it was constructed to house an extended family, with each floor accommodating a different set of relatives. Indeed, the owners still live in the building. Because it was built as a family home, it is very sturdily constructed. Having been built pre air-conditioning, it also has excellent circulation. I knew the area before moving in and had wondered how a such a unique building of its age could have survived the cycle of redevelopment; it’s the last building in the neighbourhood of its vintage. I went to the initial viewing partly out of curiosity as I wanted to see what such a wonderful old place was like inside. What are some of its notable features? Probably the first thing I noticed (and fell in love with) were the transom windows above all the doors. These are very old-fashioned in Hong Kong nowadays. When the (retrofitted but nonetheless antediluvian) air-conditioning in the master bedroom failed during July they were a godsend! Who would have thought one could sleep comfortably in Hong Kong in July without air-conditioning?
The avocado bathroom is very much of its time. You have to buy into the flat, I think, in order to love it. Every time I take a bath, I feel like I’m in a Wong Kar Wai film. The façade is stone – also very unusual in Hong Kong – but this also helps to keep the place cool. Tell us about your renovationwork on the home. All the potential tenants who had viewed the flat had demanded full renovation by the landlord in advance. The family are very attached to their home and didn’t want to change it drastically. I agreed to take on the place “as seen” and do the work largely myself. Despite being an academic, my father is very handy, so I learnt nearly all of these skills almost on his knee. Through childhood, I slowly graduated from handing him tools to being allowed to do some of the work myself. As a teenager I must have redecorated more rooms than I’d care to count, re-sanded and sealed wooden flooring, and re-tiled several bathrooms and kitchens. Indeed, my siblings and I built a house in Scotland a few years ago. I wasn’t daunted by taking on the flat, thinking of my work on the place as more of a restoration than a renovation. I repainted the flat in neutral colours to allow the beauty of the original wood fittings to speak for
themselves. Well, I also enlisted the help of various current and former students in their summer holidays. I think eight or nine of us worked on the living room walls at different times! The parquet floors are all original (60 years and counting). In the old days, they would have been finished with French polishing, a technique that has largely been abandoned in Hong Kong. It involves applying many thin layers of shellac to the wood. When the cost of labour for such craftsmanship was cheaper, I’m sure that was the thing to do! I settled for Osmo oil, which takes two coats only and is very easy to maintain. It also brings out the wood’s natural lustre without staining it artificially. I’d used it previously on an oak floor my sister and I built in her kitchen in Scotland: it’s definitely easier to apply with experience. The light fixtures in the bedrooms ran on the old incandescent 40 watt bulbs that were a little dim for my liking, so I wired in some new chandeliers and fixtures to brighten the place up – especially the third bedroom, which I use as a study cum TV room. The original 60s pink polka dot lamp shade has been repurposed as a plant stand. What area or features of the home do you like best? Having a separate dining room is a real luxury in Hong Kong, especially one that can sit 14 people. This has made work events for the team a real delight. The balcony is a genuine joy, too. I grow dill, basil and lemon balm and I have a scotch bonnet plant from my aunt’s garden,
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although it’s yet to produce any chillies. It’s wonderful to be able to sit out and drink coffee there in the morning – even in the height of summer. Tell us about a few items that have an interesting story behind them. When you move flats in Hong Kong, everyone is always so generous with their time and in helping you find furniture. Many of the plants came from an old family friend who was downsizing, including the lovely rubber tree in the master bedroom. I’m particularly fond of the desk in my study; it’s Qing, and over 150 years old. It has a matching cabinet I keep in the living room. Above the bar cabinet is an early work by Elaine Chiu, an up-and-coming Hong Kong artist. She’s currently represented by JPS Gallery. Many of the other books and smaller pieces have been given to me over the years, or I acquired them second hand. I’ve always got an eye on the AsiaXPAT classifieds looking for a bargain. I guess you can take the boy out of Scotland… The outside furniture on the terrace actually came from the Aberdeen Boat Club, which was doing a renovation and no longer needed it. As any of the members would attest, it’s a delight to have a little piece of the ABC at home!
I always take visiting friends to eat at… • Lao Zhang Gui Dongbei in Tai Kok Tsui for Peking Duck that rivals some of HK’s best known establishments. • Sijie in Aubin House, Wan Chai is also a favourite. For home renovation supplies, I recommend… • The hardware shops in Kwun Tong Industrial Centre, a sprawling labyrinthine affair at 472-484 Kwun Tong Road or O’Brien Road in Wan Chai. • Osmo products are only available through one exclusive supplier on Gloucester Road. A walk in the flower market isn’t complete without… • A coffee at Hayfever, 62 Flower Market Road, Mong Kok. • Flowers from Hing Fat Wholesalers, 56 Flower Market Road; there’s also a shop in Canal Road for HK Islanders. When I need to unwind I recommend... • F45 Training, Central – the friendliest and least intimidating fitness tribe I’ve come across in HK, with training that can fit into my six-day work week.
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Whether it’s a party of five or a solo supper kind of evening, meal times always taste better with a touch of style. Jazz up your dining area with these pretty picks!
1 Plaza wallpaper by Innovations, HK$540 per yard, Altfield Interiors 2 Gregor lantern, $1,190, Indigo Living 3 Greenacre fabric by Colefax & Fowler, $1,070 per metre, Altfield Interiors 4 Rory bar cart in brass and acrylic, $7,990, Indigo Living 5 Grasshopper teak dining table, $14,950, TREE 6 Kashmir silk rug, price on request, CarpetBuyer
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7 Spur dining table in reclaimed teak and iron, $13,950, TREE 8 Fendy in reclaimed teak and iron, $4,865, TREE 9 Bamboo silk carpet, price on request, CarpetBuyer 10 Agate coasters, $650, Indigo Living 11 Cecile dining table in marble and aluminium alloy, $19,900, Indigo Living 12 Viola Coupe 16-piece porcelain dinner set, $1,790, Indigo Living 13 Extra fine Nain rug, price on request, CarpetBuyer
Directory Altfield Interiors 2525 2738 | altfield.com.hk CarpetBuyer 2850 5508 | carpetbuyer.com Indigo Living 2555 0540 | indigo-living.com TREE 2870 1582 | tree.com.hk
Christmas Pointers for a perfectly festive Christmas table setting, courtesy of Hong Kong-based home furnishing retailer Indigo Living. Add a focal point: First, decide what you want your guests to fix their eyes on. While a giant floral arrangement can be eye-catching – even Instagrammable! – make sure the end result isn’t too tall or it may be hard for your guests to interact with one another. For a more contemporary and elegant look, try assembling a group of candles together. Spruce it up: Create contrast with a mix of evergreens, picking a maximum of three unique colour and texture variations that add layers to your centrepiece. Pro tip: Using high-quality faux flowers will last you through the entire party season! 7 Steps for a Stylish I f you’re anything like us, you’ll be looking forward to Christmas celebrations more this year than ever before. Completely understandable! Since so many of us will be spending the holiday season here in HK, it’s an ideal time to go to town on the festive décor in our homes. As the Indigo team says, it’s all about celebrating and being grateful for those around us and the moments we have together. So, here’s their easy-peasy guide to setting up a smorgasbord of Christmas delight in your own home. (Dare we say, Yule thank us for it…) #1 Decide on a Theme Every momentous Christmas feast begins with a stunning table-scape. Whether you’re going for the classic red and green pairing or a contemporary setting, pick a theme that you can go all out with! #2 Gather Your Supplies Plan ahead and figure out all the pieces you need – think gleaming ornaments, celebratory linens, modern vases and other eye-catching décor. #3 Organise Your Linen Generally speaking, a crisp white linen table-runner will do. But if you’re looking to up the ante this year, go for one with subtle prints on it. #4 Choose a Centrepiece A beautiful Christmas centrepiece is the fastest way to add cheer to your party. It’s also a great excuse to show off your creative flair to friends and family. Here are two simple steps to create a stunning impact with your centrepiece:
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#5 Set the Table Your table mats and coasters should add a bit of contrast. If you’ve got lots of guests to fit around the table, choose smaller-sized settings to adjust to the space. #6 Invest in a Good Set of Tableware When it comes to tableware, most people play it safe with crystal glasses and porcelain plates. Why not take it up a notch by throwing a set of gold cutlery into the mix? It’s an instant pop of luxury that exudes warmth to traditional red and green themes. #7 End with a Bang What’s a Christmas dinner without some good old-fashioned crackers? Sure to put a smile on anyone’s faces, they’ll also ensure your party goes out with a bang.
So many Christmas goodies!
Indigo has a huge range of Christmas accessories available to shop, from realistic faux spruce trees of various heights, to shimmering decorative l i gh t s , baub l e s and ornaments, as well as garlands, candlesandmore. There’s also everything you need for setting up a home bar that’s fit for the holiday season – cocktail shakers, openers, wine coolers and so on. Plus, you’ll find great gifts for him and her, and the kids. It’s a one-stop shop for everything you need for the festive season.
The Indigo Group includes Indigo Living, Indigo Atelier and Indigo Kids. Find out more at indigo-living.com, or visit the flagship stores at 6/F and 8/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau.
H omebuyer sentiment in the residential market remained positive in recent months given the stable epidemic situation in Hong Kong. Despite COVID-19 and the worsening economy, there has been robust demand in the primary market. According to the latest figures from Land Registry, almost 5,000 residential transactions were recorded in October. Primary sales accounted for over 1,000 of these – a surge of by 29 percent, month on month. One of the new projects to catch the market’s attention is Central Peak at Stubbs Road, the super luxury development by Sun Hung Kai Properties. It has just sold out two units in its initial batch, with unit prices reaching HK$78,000 to $83,000 per square foot. Comparatively, there is more uncertainty for the secondary market amid recent mixed sentiment – some owners have sold their properties at a loss. The deteriorating labour market has taken its toll on the leasing market. In some areas – Tung Chung and Discovery Bay, for example – landlords have had to cut asking rents to compete for new tenants. Meanwhile, some buyers have seized the opportunity of the downturn to purchase properties. Serviced apartments are offering deeper discounts, too, as they face competition from hotels offering long-stay packages and other attractive offers. Looking ahead, the primary sales market is expected to remain active with a few new projects scheduled for launch before the end of 2020. Developers may provide more incentives and discounts to speed up sales. With more units available for sale and protracted negative market factors, we expect housing prices to drop by three to five percent for the mass market and by five percent for the luxury market for the full year 2020.
A PLACE IN TIME District: Pok Fu Lam Rental: $71,000 onwards Size: 1,358 to 1,431 sq. ft (Jessville Tower) Bedrooms: 3 bedrooms & study; 4 bedrooms; or 4 bedrooms & study Bathrooms: 2
Set amidst the forests of Pok Fu Lam, 90-year-old Jessville Manor has been revitalised into four luxury apartments still sporting original colonial verandas. By its side is the new Jessville Tower with units commanding sweeping views. The old garden has been extended with play areas, an orchard and an infinity pool above a three-storey car park, where every space has an electric charger.
Maggie Lee Senior Director, Head of Residential Agency Knight Frank firstname.lastname@example.org
Ref No: HUB2022114
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MODERN MASTERPIECE District: Repulse Bay
This range of elegant, high-quality apartments with sea views overlooking Repulse Bay comprises two- to four-bedroom options, either serviced or unfurnished. All have spacious living and dining rooms with an impressive island kitchen or ample kitchen. An exclusive selection of luxurious apartments and penthouses are also available upon request.
Rental: Unfurnished: $70,900-$157,000 incl. per month Serviced apartment: $99,800-$262,000 incl. per month Size: Unfurnished: 1,322-2,778 sq. ft Serviced apartment: 1,305 to 2,783 sq. ft
Bedrooms: 2 to 4 Bathrooms: 2 to 3
Ref No: HKG152922
SEA VIEWS District: Pok Fu Lam Rental: $120,000 incl. per month Size: 2,502 sq. ft
Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 2
This unique colonial low-rise duplex apartment comes with a private roof terrace. It boasts a highly efficient layout with decently sized bedrooms and full views of surrounding greenery and out to the sea – ideal for those famous Pok Fu Lam sunsets!
Ref No: HKG131072
HEART OF HK District: Central Rental: $24,000 to $32,000 Size: 740 to 1,502 sq. ft Bedrooms: Studio Bathrooms: 1 Located in Wellington Street in the heart of Central, Yin Serviced Apartments are designed primarily for business travellers and local executives, and aim to successfully combine the luxury of a five-star hotel with the warm ambience of home.
Ref No. HKG192672
COSY QUARTERS District: Tsim Sha Tsui Rental: $12,000 to $21,000 Size: 368 to 755 sq. ft Bedrooms: Studio to 1 bed Bathrooms: 1
Situated in bustling Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, Yi Serviced Apartments intelligently combine modern sophistication and old-world cosiness to provide residents with a true home away from home. Room types include studios and one-bedders.
Ref No. HKG192671
For more info on these properties or to see more options, go to knightfrank.com.hk
VERONICA VALDIVIESO From: Venezuela Occupation: Entrepreneur, including importing eco- friendly accessories and bags from Portugal to HK (see vvfashionstore.com, Instagram @VVfashionsVV)
AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO LIFE IN THEIR ’HOOD
It’s also well located and well connected to different parts of Hong Kong. For example, you can walk to East TST in just 10 minutes, Avenue of the Stars is a 15-minute stroll away, and it’s 20 minutes to the Star Ferry. It only takes 5 minutes to get to Causeway Bay on the bus from the Cross-Harbour Tunnel stop, 15 minutes to Ocean Park, and 15 minutes to Wan Chai. In addition, it’s only a 15-minute ferry ride to Central from the newly (re)opened Hung Hom Ferry Pier, and less than 10 minutes to North Point. You can also easily access places like Mong Kok or even the New Territories by taking the MTR. For example, it’s easy to get to Sai Kung, Sha Tin or Tai Po by MTR from Hung Hom station.
Where do you live? Harbourfront Horizon, Hung Hom Bay, Kowloon.
How long have you lived here? One and a half years.
Why here? Because it’s a lovely neighbourhood with a fantastic promenade overlooking Hong Kong Island, and it feels quiet and spacious, and a bit exclusive.
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Describe your lifestyle where you live. Swimming pools (the Harbourfront has a lush tropical pool), hotel high teas (Shangri-La’s is great!); cocktails in the many lovely bars around the area (the Salisbury Road strip, for example, has some lovely places); picnics by the promenade or lovely strolls down the promenade; coffee (especially in the newly opened NOC café on the promenade); meals and drinks in outdoor cafés with the lovely view of Hong Kong K (the Kerry Hotel has nice spots, and the newly opened Ink seafood bar on the promenade is a great place to eat, drink and watch the Symphony of Lights!); basically, lots of good food and cocktails and good times with good people! When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? People running up and down the beautiful promenade with the incredible skyline of Hong Kong Island in the background. What’s your closest store? Fortune Metropolis mall next to Hung Hom MTR, and AEON in Whampoa (in the basement of the cruise ship!). A 15-minute walk down the promenade will also take you to K11 Musea. What movie would your area be a perfect backdrop for a remake of? Any movie that involves somebody training and running to a pretty backdrop! How are the neighbours? They’re from all over the world and everyone is super friendly; there are different types of families – some with kids, some young couples, elderly couples, and singles too. Some of them have lived in the area for 10 years or more! Of course, you also see a lot of fishermen, or just locals looking for fresh air on the promenade. What’s the unofficial uniform of your street? Small running shorts and nothing else for the men, and for the women anything that looks good in their Instagram pictures! What’s a mandatory stop for visiting guests? The Kerry Hotel for the 7th-floor terrace (Red Sugar bar and restaurants) and Dockyard on the 1st floor (a modern food-court concept and a great place for live music, pool and darts).The Harbour Plaza Metropolis hotel also has a great terrace bar for a cocktail or a happy hour drink at sunset time (Patio Bar). The place is magical and the view is absolutely stunning – and it’s so quiet; nobody seems to know about it!
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