Category Archives: Hong Kong

Friday Night Rocks


There’s a new place in town and it’s called the New Central Harbourfront, a huge outdoor area right along the harbor next to the Central Ferry piers.  This week, with the Hong Kong Rugby 7′s in town, they’re holding daily events here as part of what they’re calling HK Fanzone. The opening night featured local star Khalil Fong while Saturday night brought De La Soul back to Hong Kong.

Friday night brought Friday Night Rocks, the first in a series of events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Underground. So for the crazy low price of just HK$150 for advance tickets, you got a festival celebrating the amazing diversity of Hong Kong’s independent music scene (plus a guest band from Korea). The bands that played were:

It was a great night, to put it mildly. Stand-outs for me were Shotgun Politics, Galaxy Express and Dr. Eggs.

Here are a few quick photos. There’s a lot more over at the Friday Night Rocks Gallery Page at Spike’s Photos.









A Hard Act to Follow


One thing about getting older, when you get some minor sickness it hits you much harder. I’ve been feeling like crap for 5 days now and not certain I will go into the office on Monday or not.

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for close to ten years now – my first blog post was December 4, 2004. Back then I was writing about something a bit different and I was getting pretty high numbers, for whatever that’s worth. Then a couple of years later the blog assumed its current haphazard form and the numbers dropped down and I’ve always been quite okay with that. I get around 15,000 visits per month (not uniques) and I’m always surprised that the numbers are that high. Oh sure, like everyone else, I fantasize about writing something that goes viral and brings me fame and fortune but I know it’s not likely to happen. My posts are written relatively quickly and I spend zero time on SEO. I like writing, I like communicating, and I do it for its own sake.

Then I get something like my last post.  If I normally get 15,000 views a month, that post got more than 14,000 views in about 5 days. Clearly it resonated with a lot of people. Biggest referer? Facebook, by far.

It’s not my first time ranting about conditions in Hong Kong and it’s probably not my best rant either. I would ascribe a lot of the views of that post to the general sentiment one encounters every day – which is one of increasing unrest and unhappiness with the way things are going here. I think some people share my view that the quality of life in Hong Kong is noticeably decreasing and nothing is being done about it. Other people of course do not share this view. That’s life for you.

So one might think that now I’m feeling the pressure to continue in that vein. But the fact is that I won’t. I’ll keep on doing what I’ve been doing – a little bit of this followed by a little bit of that – blogging as the mood strikes me. And I don’t see myself filling up the sidebar with ads or running a lot of sponsored posts (you wouldn’t believe how many inquiries I get every week to run that kind of stuff).  And I’m sure that in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have more rants, so stay tuned if that’s your thing.

Going off on a slight tangent here …. Big Lychee, Hemlock’s blog, infamous in certain circles, right? Well, he’s certainly got his followers. At the moment comments are broken on his blog and his RSS feed isn’t working (I suspect he doesn’t even realize the latter).  Hemlock’s been blogging longer than I have and his posts are more consistent than mine. Every day, 5 days a week, excluding holidays, he writes a thousand words of usually good analysis of what he perceives to be the issue of the day, often served with a side order of how much better he is than everyone else. (He has this annoying habit lately of attacking fashion models in ads for not looking the way he believes people ought to look. I think he believes that’s him being “snarky,” similar to the way he will occasionally go after dogs and dog owners.)

I kind of feel bad for him. I mean, just imagine, waking up every morning, almost every day for more than 10 years, and feeling it’s his mission to find something to be pissed off about (not that that’s so hard in Hong Kong, to be honest). He’s even written a book about Hong Kong political and economic scene, currently at #3,207,282 on Amazon’s best seller list. And then, having written so well and written for such a long period of time, he’s managed to change absolutely fucking nothing, at least not as far as I can tell.

He and I come from a different place and a different era. My experience is of battling the Vietnam War and Nixon and kind of being proven right and yet having lost at the same time. Hunter S. Thompson put it best:

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.

My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

I remember that wave breaking. Thompson wrote that book around ’71 so he’s referring to events in the mid 60s.  For me, I think it broke and rolled back in ’72 when despite everything we knew to be true, Nixon was re-elected. Even with eventually managing to drive both him and Agnew from office (and leaving America with a president that no one had voted for), well, things just weren’t the same after that. I guess it’s fair to say that I hunger for a similar wave in Hong Kong and that I’d like to be riding the crest of that wave. But I don’t really expect it to happen.

Anyway, for all those folks who discovered me via my last rant and are looking for more of the same and will get tired of waiting for me to revisit that theme, by all means do check out Big Lychee. There’s certainly no other English language blogger in Hong Kong who is as consistent as him in attacking the status quo.



Salaries in Hong Kong


I’m home with the flu today. I’m feeling shitty so if you want to blame this post on that, feel free.

The Hong Kong Economic Times reports that the current starting salary for a university graduate in the IT field is HK$12,000 per month.  That’s roughly US$1,560 per month or US$18,720 per year.

Restaurant workers in Hong Kong can get HK$10,000 a month and maybe even some tips on top of that.

Of course, an IT worker with a few years experience will see his or her salary go up a fair amount – if they’re smart and if they’re working for the right company. In most cases, if they’re working for a local company and don’t make it into the ranks of management, they will top out at around the HK$20-25k per month mark.  (I’ve known people with PhDs earning this amount.)  The best ones will go to work for an ibank, where they can earn double that, or try to start their own company.

These are programmers and sysadmins we’re talking about, the same skills that can earn a six figure annual income in the US. Here they make so little that they have to live with their parents until they get married so there’s a second income to help pay the rent.

I know this is a fact because I see the salaries of the people who work for me (and it’s something that I’m essentially powerless to do anything about since I don’t set these numbers in the company I work for or the ones I worked for in the past).

Side story: Not my current workplace, but my previous one. I was online at Subway to get lunch and saw one of my programmers standing in line in about 5 people in front of me. A guy who was earning just about HK$11,000 per month.  They told him HK$30 for the sandwich. He asked to use Octopus, and was told they don’t accept that. He didn’t have HK$30 (US$3.90 in his pocket! He turned to walk out of there without any food. I tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the money to pay for his lunch. You know what he asked me? “Do you have enough cash left for yourself?” I think this is the daily reality for a lot of people in HK.

This vaguely leads me into a rant that I’ve had sitting in my drafts folder for several months.

Every time people complain about the rising residential and commercial rents, we are told that nothing can be done because Hong Kong is the world’s freest market economy.

Every time people complain about the massive influx of mainland tourists shoppers overwhelming almost every aspect of daily Hong Kong life, we are told it is good for the economy.

We are lied to on a daily basis. 

Today, over 1.6 million people, more than 300,000 of them elderly, live in poverty in Hong Kong. How is this even remotely acceptable in “Asia’s World City”?  Why do we accept the fact that we live in a place where the elderly go from trash bin to trash bin looking for recyclable materials (cardboard, beer cans, etc.) so that they can get a few dollars for a bowl of instant noodles for dinner when our government has billions of dollars of excess tax income just sitting there?

Rapidly rising unregulated commercial rents serve to benefit only a small handful of billionaire landlords. We read almost daily reports about how family businesses that have thrived for generations are forced to shut down.

The high price of rent is reflected in the high prices we pay for food, goods and services – it is in effect a hidden tax burden that must be carried by all Hong Kong residents. The artificial housing shortage created to benefit the Hong Kong billionaires only makes matters worse. 

We’ve had ten years of increasing numbers of mainland tourists streaming across the border and there has been almost no benefit at all for the average Hong Kong citizen.  The only benefit has been the creation of more jobs at the very lowest rungs of the ladder, the minimum wage rung and the barely above minimum wage rung. 

Salaries at the bottom rungs of the ladder have remained flat in Hong Kong for a decade or more. The minimum wage in Hong Kong is HK$30 per hour.  So someone who works an 8 hour day and a six day workweek can earn HK$6,240 per month, barely above US$800 per month or HK$74,880 per year.

The Confederation of Trade Unions ran a study with security guards, earning from $30 to $35 per hour. “Thirty-nine percent claimed it was a constant struggle to buy enough food to get by, while 37 percent said it was virtually impossible to find rent money. The vice chairman of the confederation, Tommy Yu Chung-yiu, noted that inflation increased 4.5 percent last year and so security guards felt the pinch worse than most, given their pay.”

In the U.S., they are discussing raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. From The Atlantic, “Increasing the minimum to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have proposed, would eliminate about 500,000 jobs. On the other hand, they also find it would pull 900,000 people out of poverty, and put around $19 billion into the pockets of low- and middle-income families. About 16.5 million workers would get a pay bump.  Wealthier families see their real income drop a bit, as business profits slip and prices rise somewhat.”

I’m not an economist (and I don’t play one on TV either) but I think one might safely assume that a larger bump in the HK minimum wage (the last increase, in 2013, was US$0.26 per hour) would have a similar impact here. The billionaires might have to get one less bowl of sharks fin soup at Fook Lam Moon per year (boo hoo!) while a significant portion of the Hong Kong population might be able to stop eating cat food for dinner.

No, I don’t know the answer. Except I know that Hong Kong’s current answer, which is essentially doing nothing, definitely isn’t the answer.

More on this later I’m sure.



Hong Kong Neon Online Exhibition 香港霓虹招牌


One of the things I always take pictures of as I walk around Hong Kong is neon signs. I have this feeling that they are a disappearing art form. These signs form a big part of our image of Hong Kong and we take them for granted.


I’ve heard that the government no longer issues licenses to erect these huge signs hanging over the street, so a new shop that wants to put up one of these beauties can use an existing structure, or perhaps rent one from a nearby landlord that doesn’t want to use it for himself (I’ve heard that Coyote bar in Wanchai pays a huge monthly rent for their sign).




And then you have places like Tsui Wah, the restaurant chain that had some of the most elaborate neon signs.


, and for some reason has been “modernizing” by replacing those signs with newer ones using LED lights.



(Not bad but not quite the same thing, eh?)

I’ve thought about driving around at night to various older districts in HK and looking for signs and photographing them, but it’s one of those things I’ve just never gotten around to.

So I was quite pleased to get an email from someone at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Being the first of its kind in such a large scale in Hong Kong, the online exhibition Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK to be launched on 21 March 2014 will celebrate a key feature of the city’s streetscapes by exploring, mapping and documenting its neon signs – while inviting the public to upload images of their favourite examples from throughout Hong Kong.

A crucial component of the NEONSIGNS.HK website will be a moderated crowd-sourcing element, a “Neon Map” through which anyone and everyone will be invited to collectively map and share images and stories online of existing neon signs from throughout Hong Kong.

I am thus writing to seek your action for the exhibition by sharing photo(s) of your favourite Hong Kong neon signs (香港霓虹招牌). Please kindly send us your work with a caption and/or a short paragraph of story. There is no limitation on the number of photo(s) for submission. Your work will be uploaded to our site before its launch on 21 Mar. Once it is launched, your work in the site can be reached by estimated 80,000 visitors during the exhibition period from 21 Mar to 30 Jun 2014

 So I’ve sent in a few photos for this. You can too!
neon poster_finalized

Click on the poster to see it larger. You can submit photos for the web site via Instagram, using the hashtag #HKNEON.  The web site goes live on March 21st and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve done. I’m also happy that this part of Hong Kong will at least be preserved as photographs.




Friday Night Rocks!


Yes, every Friday night rocks but Friday March 28th is going to rock even harder.


After staging at least 150 shows in Hong Kong clubs over the past ten years, my good friends at Underground are doing their first music festival – and it’s long overdue in my opinion!

The Hong Kong Rugby 7′s are coming up in two weeks and some organizers have put together a multi-day event called HK Fan Zone. Khalil Fong is scheduled for the opening night, Tuesday March 25th, and De La Soul will be headlining on Saturday March 29th. All of this will be taking place at the “New Central Harbourfront.” This is really nice – a second waterfront venue for events and concerts. Is Hong Kong finally dipping some toes into 21st century water?


Friday March 28th belongs to Underground and they’ll be bringing along SEVEN bands for the event. This includes local indie favorites like Noughts and Exes, Dr. Eggs and Bamboo Star, as well as Galaxy Express, a hard rocking trio from Korea.

There are a limited number of advance tickets for sale at only $150 – admission will cost $200 at the door. I think that’s an incredibly reasonable price for an event like this.  You can buy advance tickets online here.

Read more about the event and the participating bands here.


Finance Live! – Charity Benefit




(Please click on the above image to see it full size.)

I’m sure that a lot of people in town know Steve Bernstein. By day he works in the financial field and somehow most nights he finds the energy to be playing mandolin in a variety of bands all over town, frequently The Wanch, where I’ve seen him perform many times as a member of the Joven Goce Band.

As if all of this wasn’t already enough, he also puts together charity shows and the latest one is coming up on March 20th at Grappa’s Cellar. Titled Finance Live!, it will feature five bands, all of which include musicians who work in Hong Kong’s financial industry.

The proceeds from this show will be going to Hong Kong charity Foodlink, This is the charity that is working to end hunger in Hong Kong primarily by collecting all of the food that hotels and restaurants used to throw out at the end of the day and distributing this food to those in need.  

So in essence, you’re going to have a great night out, hear some great live music, drink a bit (or a lot, if you’re so inclined) and know that you’re helping people in Hong Kong who really need your help.

Finance Live! is almost sold out, but not quite. I’m asking you, my readers, to help make this event a sell out, and to keep an eye out for their future events as well.

If you’re looking to buy tickets, or if you just want further details on this event, drop an email to steve (dot) bernstein (at) sinopac (dot) com.


Stones Pics – Sour Grapes


A bit of bitching and moaning for a moment.

The SCMP web site has 3 photos from the Stones concert to go with their review. The photos are credited just to SCMP. Here’s the lead photo:



Seriously, that’s the best photo their guy got? Is there anyone out there who follows my concert photos over at Spike’s Photos who doesn’t think that if I was in the pit with my “real” gear that I wouldn’t have given them shots 10 times better?

But the sad truth is, it probably doesn’t matter. The shots are probably deemed good enough for a web page that few will look at and even fewer will spend more than 5 seconds on.

Still ….


The Rolling Stones in Macau


The Rolling Stones came to Macau on March 9th, playing at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Hotel. Why Macau instead of Hong Kong, when HK’s Asiaworld Arena is a bit larger? One can only assume that the Venetian is being more aggressive in going after major acts and probably offering them a larger financial incentive.

I tried to get a photo pass for the show, something that I knew was futile since all I can claim is a couple of web sites. But my mom knows Keith’s manager and met Keith a couple of times My mom doesn’t like any rock & roll at all, including the Beatles.  She’s probably met more superstar rockers than I ever will though, and Keith is probably the only one she ever liked. Go figure that! So I tried to work the connections but the wires got crossed and somehow the Stones’ crew thought I was asking for a pass for Abu Dhabi. Once that finally got cleared up, they told me they were already OD’ing on bona fide media requests for Macau and with limited space, the answer was sadly no.  Fortunately I had already bought tickets for me and my wife.

Top tickets were going for HK$15,000 – a “VVIP” package with all sorts of perks (meeting the Stones was not one of them though). I got something at the lower end of the scale, around $1,100 or so including ferry tickets, and that got us seats midway up the first of two risers in the back. But since it’s a relatively small hall, it didn’t feel like I was sitting in “heaven,” as it did when I saw the Stones for the first time at Madison Square Garden in 1969 (yes, it was before my wife was even born) – our seats were in the 2nd to last row in the top level opposite the stage – and there were no video screens in those days.


So how was the show? Let’s keep in mind that Mick and Keith are each 70 years old. Charlie is 72 and Ronnie is a relative spring chicken at 66. They’re aided and abetted by pretty much the same musicians for the past couple of decades – Darryl Jones on bass, Chuck Leavell (from the Allman Bros) on keyboards, Tim Ries and the great Bobby Keys on horns, Bernard Fowler and the amazing Lisa Fischer (watch 20 Years of Stardom 20 Feet From Stardom to learn more about her) on back-up vocals. And carrying on from the 2013 tour, Mick Taylor is brought out at some intervals as a “special guest.”  The show lasts almost exactly two hours and is mostly high energy. I remain astonished at how Jagger at 70 can be singing, running and dancing for two hours like that.

Rolling Stones Macau

I didn’t write down a set list or anything so working from memory here. In past tours the Stones have included some special mini-sets halfway through – acoustic stuff or blues covers – and there was none of that last night.  The set was pretty similar to the ones you’ll find in 2013 videos from Glastonbury and Hyde Park.

On the down side, I was disappointed that the only song they played from Exile was Tumbling Dice. Keith’s 2 song mini-set did not include Happy and I wasn’t happy about that.  Also, given their huge back catalog and the limited amount of time on stage, I wasn’t thrilled that they feel they needed to include relative clunkers like Doom and Gloom.

DSC01407But there’s no doubt in my mind that Midnight Rambler was a strong highlight. See that photo of Micks Jagger and Taylor going toe to toe with each other and trading licks? I don’t care how rehearsed it was or wasn’t, the show could have benefitted a whole lot more from this sort of interplay.



And Lisa Fischer on Gimmer Shelter? Oh my golly gosh. She’s one of the few singers around who could top Merry Clayton’s performance on the original track.

DSC01434Otherwise it was pretty much the usual suspects played – opening with Jumping Jack Flash, closing with Satisfaction, and Start Me Up, Paint It Black, Sympathy for the Devil, Honky Tonk Women, Brown Sugar. A Hong Kong chorus joined them onstage for You Can’t Always Get What You Want, a nice touch.



So, all in all, despite my unhappiness with the lack of Happy, in 2014 the Stones are far better in concert than they have a right to be. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the show and never felt an urge to say, “hey, let’s head for the exit now and beat the crowds.”



Now, some disasters, as such.

How is it that you have a concert with somewhere around 8,000 people attending and there are just two tables selling merchandise? Of course this is the kind of crowd that doesn’t mind spending HK$300 and up for a t-shirt and people were buying merch by the armload. Except that the lines were so ridiculously long and moved so slowly that I just gave up. I figure if I really want a shirt, probably there’s a way to get it online.

The other problem is that you come out of the Cotai Arena and you’re thirsty and want a drink and the first place you hit is the McSorley’s bar and there’s already 1,000 people standing outside waiting for a beer. Then there’s the Cafe Deco and a few fancy schmancy restaurants surrounding the casino floor. The food court in the mall is of course closing down by now, nothing else is within easy walking distance, and the queues for busses and taxis are thousands of people long. There’s not even a coke machine anywhere in sight, let alone something like a 7-11. All you can reasonably do is head out to the casino floor where there are carts with small plastic bottles of water to grab. We gave up, got on the shuttle bus to the Cotai ferry terminal, which is completely unlike the Macau terminal. There’s no shops or restaurants or services there at all. After you’ve lined up for an hour to get in to immigration and get your seat assignment, finally there’s a tiny drinks machine in the waiting room.

Last but not least, some photography notes. I knew there was no way I could get my Nikon D800 and 70-200mm lens past the bag check.  So I went with my Sony RX10 and its wonderful 24-200mm F2.8 lens.  All of the photos above came from that.  Given our distance from the stage, the figures were not much more than mere points – so the spot metering wasn’t effective here. I was trying not to use the rear LCD screen, just in case (this has been a problem at previous concerts) so I wasn’t checking results very often. It did eventually dawn on me that underexposing by 2 stops would give me the exposure I wanted.

I was working at manual, with shutter at 1/200th of a second and aperture at F2.8. The rear projection screen was so bright that the last shot is at ISO 400, and other shots were at similar relatively low ISO’s. Had I been checking that rear screen more frequently, I might have moved the aperture to F5.6 or F8 and gone with a slightly faster shutter speed.

Also note that when I was trying to focus on small stuff – the performers running around the outer ring rather than that rear screen, a lot of times the camera took a long time hunting for focus (and frequently didn’t find it till the 2nd or 3rd attempt).

On the other hand, I also tried shooting a video of one complete song – the last one, Satisfaction. Handheld and shakey, I’m still impressed with both the video and audio quality of the result, which I’ve uploaded to Youtube for people to check out. Go to around the 2:50 mark when I’m zooming in on Keith on the runway – I’m presuming there’s digital zoom involved there and the quality is still quite reasonable. If I’d snuck in a monopod, I could have really had something nice.




Jamie Oliver Coming to Hong Kong (yawn)


So a restaurant bearing Jamie Oliver’s name will be opening in Causeway Bay soon. But he won’t be cooking in the kitchen and someone else is the executive chef there. At least he’s promising relatively low prices – and opening in Causeway Bay and not Central or Soho, which I think means something, in a good way, I’m not sure.

What I find more interesting is that today, both the SCMP and the Standard have run almost the exact same article on the restaurant (and Oliver’s funny attempt to speak Cantonese). The SCMP’s is credited to a staff reporter; the Standard to a wire service. Here’s the SCMP’s, by Vivienne Chow (“your name is chow, go report on food!”)(sorry, bad joke, couldn’t help it)

Hong Kong fans of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver were left in stitches after the television star proved his cooking is better than his Cantonese, when he announced ‘I will open an amazing Italian submarine’ in the city.

In a light-hearted YouTube video, the chef stumbled through some tricky Cantonese vocabulary, promising his fans the restaurant would be “very slippery”, before collapsing with the giggles.

The video has received more than 35,000 hits since it was posted on Tuesday.

Oliver, 38, has a string of restaurants in Britain, Australia, Dubai, Ireland, Russia, Turkey and Singapore. He is set to open the first Hong Kong branch of his “Jamie’s Italian” chain in Causeway Bay in the coming months.

His first attempt to say “Causeway Bay” in Cantonese, as he received some off-screen prompting, came out as “car crash”, according to a translation on YouTube, while his second attempt sounded like “bronze bed”.

The video nonetheless delighted local fans.

“Jamie Oliver speaks Cantonese! So funny!” wrote Christy Lui in one comment posted below the video, while others called him “adorable” and welcomed him to the city.

“Hong Kong people like your Cantonese! But they like you even better,” wrote Cheng Dai Hup.

Oliver’s first attempt to open a restaurant in Hong Kong fell through in 2009, before he switched Asian cities, opening an outlet in Singapore last July.

The new 200-seater restaurant, set up with local partner Big Cat Group, will be on the second floor of a new building at Tang Lung Street, home to a cluster of food and beverage outlets.

William Lyon, chief executive of Big Cat Group and of Jamie’s Italian (Hong Kong and China), said the restaurant would cost “millions of US dollars” to set up. The group also pledged that ingredients from the mainland would not be used unless they met the restaurant’s stringent standards and ingredients could be traced back to their source.

Lyon said the prices of the Hong Kong restaurant would be matched against the average level of spending in Britain, £20 (HK$260) to £22 a head.

“We don’t want to be seen as a fine-dining restaurant,” he said.

Oliver is known not only for his down-to-earth cooking style but also his Food Revolution campaign for real food and a healthy diet among school children in Britain and the United States.

Lyon, a former Jardine executive based in Hong Kong and Taiwan, said the Hong Kong branch would observe strict standards in food sourcing.

He said Hong Kong could get anything from the world, and imports of ingredients such as meat from Italy would be possible. He said the Singapore branch also imported many of its ingredients.

Asked whether ingredients would be sourced from the mainland – known for its food safety scandals – Lyon did not rule out the possibility. But he said: “We would apply the same standard to the rest of the world without compromising.”

Only organic products, those farmed under a high-welfare system and on a free-range basis or under equivalent local standards would be used, he added.

And here’s what the Standard ran, credited to wire service AFP:

Hong Kong fans of British chef Jamie Oliver fell about laughing after he announced a new Italian restaurant in the city in Cantonese – with a few slip-ups.

Making a stab at the local Chinese dialect in a light-hearted YouTube video, he announces: “I will open an amazing Italian submarine.”

Attempting to repeat words read out by a Cantonese-speaker off-screen, he also promises that the restaurant will be “very slippery,’’ before collapsing into giggles.

The video on Youtube has drawn more than 35,000 hits since Tuesday.

Oliver, 38, set to open the first Hong Kong branch of his “Jamie’s Italian” chain in Causeway Bay.
His first attempt to say “Causeway Bay” in Cantonese came out as “car crash,’’ while the second sounded like “bronze bed.’’

The video nonetheless delighted local fans.

“Jamie Oliver speaks Cantonese! So funny!” wrote Christy Lui in one comment posted below the video, while others called him “adorable” and welcomed him to the city.

“Hong Kong people like your Cantonese! But they like you even better,” wrote Cheng Dai Hup.

There are several possibilities here. The first is that the SCMP sold their story to a wire service, one that the Standard subscribed to. The second and more likely story is that the SCMP reporter essentially took the wire service report and added in a few more details and whoever laid out the page only credited the story to her. At least they each had different headlines.

So the question becomes, should one pay for the SCMP’s print edition or a subscription to their web site when the Standard’s print edition and web site are both free? (Yeah, I know, the SCMP has their columnists and comics and crossword puzzles and so on. Enjoy.)  What is the point of having 2 different newspapers if they both exist to run the same wire stories?

Yeah, this is not some earth shattering thing. Just struck me as funny and I’m kinda bored today.


Wanted: Women in Hong Kong with Tattoos – Hong Kong Ink


I’ve been trying to come up with a theme for a photo project for awhile and finally I have it – Hong Kong Women With Tattoos. HKWWT? Probably there’s a better name out there. Maybe Hong Kong Ink? I kind of like that!  Hong Kong Ink™®©. (or is that already taken? The URL is registered but redirects to a tech company. hkink is also taken. Hmmm.)

The first lady in this series is Chris B, known to all as the tattooed godmother of Hong Kong indie rock. I shot her at PASM a couple of years ago and we’ll probably do another shoot this spring.



The second in the series is Faye Wan, whom I met when she was singing lead with HK indie band Hazden. Loved her voice, loved her look and was thrilled when she agreed to come to my studio to pose for some portraits.


I used this shot of Faye in a recent group exhibition in a gallery in Soho:

SHS_8604-Edit-3-2I shot the third lady in this series just this past Saturday, a woman named Hui.

SHS_0576This photo of her is my highest ranked photo on 500px to date:



As always, more photos can be found over at Spike’s Photos.

So … if you are a woman in Hong Kong, of any age and of any ethnic background, and you’ve got tattoos, I’d love to shoot some portraits of you and your ink. (If you’ve got a friend who fits the bill, please pass this info along.)  Preferably you can come to my studio, PASM Workshop, but if not other arrangements can be made. Please get in touch via the email link found on the upper right corner of this page.