Hong Kong in Pictures

Some faintly noteworthy sights, before I delete them from my camera.

Right: seen outside Yung Kee goose restaurant in Wellington Street, Central at just after 2pm on Thursday, April 7 – government limo AM 109, stationary and sitting right on top of double yellow lines. As if throwing taxpayers’ money away on pointless infrastructure projects isn’t enough, our officials also clutter up our crowded streets by parking illegally.

So many officials have chauffeur-driven cars these days that we will probably never know who it was acting antisocially and putting themselves above the law that day. The two people in the background seemed to be no more than innocent bystanders. But that’s just it. Are they not too innocent to be true? The guy is definitely guilty of something, and is anyone really going to be fooled by the woman’s ‘I’m-feeding-a-baby’ routine? They have ‘HK$134,000-a-month political assistants’ written all over them.

Below: the scene just north of IFC Mall, viewed from the walkway to the ferries a week ago today. For years this patch of grass has just sat there, inaccessible to the public and never put to any use. Almost as if someone didn’t want people to get used to it or form a sense of attachment. At first I thought the workmen were preparing for some sort of event: an open-air concert, a carnival with a Ferris wheel, or maybe a giant picnic for orphans sponsored by property tycoons. On closer examination, it seems they are getting ready to build something. It can only be the famous air-vent necessitated by the multi-billion-dollar, pollution factory known as the Central Bypass (artist’s impression shows view from the building on the right). Enjoy one last look at the forbidden lawn.

The light brown things at dead centre were steel girders.

Below: another monstrosity about to blight the neighbourhood – Lan Kwai Fong’s Hard Rock Café, seen yesterday morning as workmen delivered various items of tacky décor, which must mean it will be opening soon. I have only ever been to one of these places, and that was next to the Portman Hotel in Shanghai in the mid-1990s, when it was an exotic pioneer in the opening up of China to tawdry Western lifestyle brands.

Could Pierce Lam be convinced to do battle against this intrusion of worthless and irrelevant English-speaking pop culture into our demographically 95% Chinese city? He might if he knew what sort of market the trashy restaurant chain is almost certainly here to target. There was a time when Americans, in particular, would travel thousands of miles to Asia only to make a beeline for the identical menu they had left behind at home, and then make a small but real contribution to the continued and final vegetating of the Western mind by paying hefty prices for a Hard Rock T-shirt to prove they had done it. But the world has moved on. Today, Hard Rock Café is on a mission civilisatrice in places from Mexico to Egypt to Cyprus of which we have barely heard.

Clearly, mainland tourists in the Big Lychee are next to be weaned away from their thousand-year-old culture and its outstanding – and traditionally healthy – cuisine, and force-fed burgers, induced to gaze upon Madonna posters and brainwashed into needing T-shirts from the Hard Rock Cafés of Costa Maya and Nabq. Especially Nabq. Home of Egypt’s finest onion rings.

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15 Responses to Hong Kong in Pictures

  1. Maugrim says:

    That green bunker/exhaust fume thingy looks strikingly similar to the design for the Central Markets a short stroll away. As to the Hard Rock, wasn’t there one on Canton Rd that went bust? Maybe LKF is the perfect place? EPCOT in Florida has faux ‘London” and “Paris’ with accompanying shops selling ‘authentic’ food and knick knacks. We have LKF.

  2. Smedley Tangbottom III says:

    Hamburg, Germany (see above), seems to me about as perfect a place as anywhere to locate a western style fat-food parlour.

  3. Saikungbob says:

    I recall that there used to be one in Central — maybe where Chater House is now — or am I hallucinating?

  4. Probably The Injunear says:

    And anyone who has had the misfortune to visit the Hard Rock Cafe in the “City of Dreams” (or should that be “Shit Hole of Waking Nightmares”) at the Cotai Strip joint will realise that the brand that once purported peace love and understanding is now just a complete sell out, even worse than the Sex Pistols reunion tour.

    One can take afternoon tea in the lounge whilst listening to genteel music over the PA system. And in Penang there is a Hard Rock Hotel complete with kids club swimming pool and family entertainment. All about as Hard Rock as The Teletubbies on prozac.

    Will the LKF incarnation be any better?

  5. Joe Blow says:

    It will be so totally gone 5 years from now.

  6. Longtimenosee says:

    The IFC patch of grass had one of those many HK annual events called “Christmas Fair”.

    I foolishly went along thinking I could get fine seasonal food from Germany, or even mouth blown glass xmas ornaments and a decent glass of mulled wine perhaps.
    In other words, I thought it would be a Christmas Fair.
    Wrong…

    I now know that all these events are handicraft sales projects set up by bored useless expat Tai Tais.
    Think coat hangers bent into necklaces sort of thing.
    Plenty of useless arty crap and the odd third rate credit card company trying to sign you up to an SPCA themed VISA cards.

    How did Hemlock miss this event is what I want to know???

  7. Vile Traveller says:

    The smokestack is a much better use of the space. Might even freshen the air a bit.

  8. Maugrim says:

    VT. I wonder if it’s a crafty way by the Government to change the space into something less accessable that might otherwise be used by domestic helpers on their day off. Couldn’t have that.

  9. Vile Traveller says:

    “Crafty” is not a word normally attributable to the Highways or Transport Departments, nor to their masters. If it were Henderson / SHK behind the chimney, maybe, but they were dead against the idea on the basis that it would mess up “their” front lawn. In any case, it was never terribly accessible, nor was it meant to be. Strictly a temporary use of space reserved for the future implementation of transport infrastructure essential to the well-being of the people of Hong Kong.

    That future is now.

    On second thoughts, “spiteful” springs to mind. the leadership is probably still annoyed that their plans for another couple of high-rises in front of IFC were scuppered by that dreadful nuisance, public opinion (and the aforementioned developers).

  10. Maugrim says:

    I’m not so sure VT, I see grass and filippinas are adept at climbing. What’s the bet they’ll grow something with thorns so that even if reached, the area is unable to be sat upon?

  11. Roger Maxims says:

    For those of us die-hard fans, this article brings subtle and yet reverberant memories of the old Hard Rock Cafe located at where Emporium Armani, Armani Fiori, Armani Casa, Giorgio Armani, Armani Kids, Armani Bar and Giorman Sofa is today, on the dirty end of Pedder Street.

    Mind you, this was in the mid-90s when bright yellow Bossini blazers with the Italian designer’s name all over them were in fashion. The then Hard Rock Cafe was equally as inaccessible as Armani (price-wise and pedestrian-friendliness-wise) is today.

  12. Morgan (capital M, small organ) says:

    Oh nostalgia, you bitch: ’twas in the mid-80s (cue: emotional colonial wiping away tears….) when, on a Friday nite, the Jockey Bar in ‘old Swire Hou-see’ was a heaving hive of sweaty, red-nosed expats.

  13. Roger Maxims says:

    Hear hear…let bygones be bygones, and let It’s-all-about-minimum-wage-earners-welfare HK$100k-a-month-Exco-convenor Chun Ying Leung GBS JP serve notice on all ye faithful to attend his inauguration on 1 July 2012.

    Have always wondered why people are late for board meetings here till I realised that there is only one CY per Asia’s World City.

  14. Ho! Ho! Ho! says:

    HK Gov doesn’t know what they’ve unleashed, see http://www.1823.gov.hk/eng/based/mobileapp.htm

    AM 109 beware!!

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