The first of the events associated with Hong Kong Comes to Chicago has been announced! This month-long celebration kicks off on May 1 with the opening night of “Hong Kong Cinema: The Next Generation.” These films reflect the creativity and vitality of Hong Kong. Their directors are ambitious entrepreneurs, bringing both the heritage and culture of Hong Kong to Chicago through powerful storytelling in film.
Two films will be featured during the first two weeks.
A Decade of Love – Friday, May 1, 2009, 6 p.m.
Featuring nine short segments, all by a group of Hong Kong’s up-and-coming young directors and screenwriters, the film cumulatively provides an entertaining look at Hong Kong’s new range of themes, stories, and emerging talents. Director Chan Wing Chiu and Producer Angel Hon will attend the event for a discussion after the screening, followed by a cocktail reception.
The Drummer – Saturday, May 9, 2009, 8 p.m.
A tale of the transformation of a gangster’s rebellious son through a rigorous but mystical sojourn with a band of Zen drummers. The movie stars Jaycee Chan, son of martial arts film star Jackie Chan. Director Kenneth Bi and Producer Rosa Li will be available for discussion after the screening.
Purchase tickets and find out more about these two film screenings and other events associated with Hong Kong Comes to Chicago here.
Of all the memorable things we did during our one week in Hong Kong, I think being lost in a sea of people on the streets is what I miss most. As strange as that seems, there is something very warm about being in a foreign place that is alive and booming with activity- your afternoon strolls are never really strolls but people-watching sessions- food stands, loud taxi horns, Cantonese words from all directions. In this way, Hong Kong is no different from any other big city in the U.S. but compared to cities such as New York and Chicago, where you are part of the activity, in a foreign city, you are an outsider looking in. So your walks become more than just a way to get to your next appointment-every time you step outside, you’re in for a cultural lesson.
In a region of seven million people living and working on only 423 square miles of land, a growing consciousness of environmentalism is becoming more and more important.
The challenge is daunting. Hong Kong has poor air quality due in part to industrial pollution coming from the mainland. Vehicles, especially diesel, are responsible for street-level pollution. Landfill space is becoming scarce.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is taking a tough stance against litter and pollution in the region. Richard Vuylsteke, president of the Chamber, talked to us during our visit about the importance of creating environment-friendly citizens at a young age. One of the region’s most successful campaigns to go green involved educating elementary-aged children about the harmful effects of littering. Soon these young advocates started spreading the word on eco-friendly habits to their parents. After a short time, the region was noticeably cleaner. The campaign’s success was evident, and a new generation was turned on to the importance of protecting natural resources.
Right now, Hong Kong is reaching for low-hanging fruit and quick fixes in the fight to conserve, creating campaigns and tactics to spread awareness and taking part in advocacy and debates. It takes time and funding to implement new legislation and educate citizens about developing eco-friendly standards and habits. But Hong Kong is off to a good start.
As I was in a CTA bus in Chicago yesterday, fond memories of the Hong Kong super fast transit system came to mind. The image blurred and gave way to one of colorful trams in front of the HSBC building in HK. These trams run exclusively on double-deckers and is the only tramway or 香港電車 in the world to do so. Several tourists hop on to a tram to see Hong Kong island all the way from Shau Kei Wan to Kennedy Town, thus covering the island in less than a day.
We couldn’t stop staring at these vehicles – not just for their historic value but also for their advertising impact. Almost all trams we saw were painted from top to bottom with an advertisement beckoning the viewer to douse herself in perfume or to buy home insurance and be safe. Bright, colorful and painted all over the tram, these ads were yelling Buy me now! to the consumer. From afar, these trams looked like full-page newspaper color ads with tiny people in passport photos staring out at the reader. If only these trams had colorful lights all over them – they would have made a mobile Times Square!
It would be a crime to write about Hong Kong without reference to all the shopping it offers. Here, you can choose to either blow up thousands of dollars or forget the wallet at home and survive with just a few Hong Kong Dollars in your pocket. If you need to sign up at Shopaholics Anonymous like I do, simply do both. Malls in Hong Kong draw thousands of shoppers from Mainland China every year, making the rich Chinese a key demographic to target.
The glitzy malls at Central are home to a range of dazzling high-end European brands. Clothes and footwear occupy largest mindspace here, followed by touristy stuff such as chopsticks and Chinese art displays. Window shopping is a must – I found myself stuck to the glass panes at Prada and Fendi pretty much like a goldfish blowing bubbles at the world outside. If I were a rich girl, I would buy Hong Kong. Or at least the shopping areas.
In sharp contrast, Prada and Fendi are also available as great quality knock-offs on the streets at Kowloon, in Temple bazaar and Ladies market. Hush! Don’t quote me on this one. Bustling with activity and open till around midnight, this market truly models supply and demand microeconomics on a minute-by-minute basis. Look like a tourist, show high interest in a handbag and you’ll probably get the worst rates despite the vendor’s promise of “Only for you best price, la!“. Look confident, seem slightly interested, wear the bargaining hat and you’ll walk away with a superior air of conquest.
Most interestingly, small designer stores are ubiquitous in central areas such as Causeway Bay and Lang Kwai Fong. These are owned by budding designers, who unleash their creative spark and offer mid-priced garments to Hong-kies. To give you a sense of how addictive shopping here is – I bought and checked-in an extra bag just for all my shopping.
After a week in Hong Kong, we’re on our way back to the U.S.A. in just a few minutes. This has been an unforgettable week. In just a few short days, this city went from an exotic, new place to somewhere I think we’d all feel comfortable moving.
People like to say that Hong Kong is a city that typifies the East-meets-West concept, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a place where East and West don’t just meet, but merge to form something new.
Ultimately, I found that what makes this city on the other side of the globe so fascinating is that it makes no attempt to be either exclusively Asian or exclusively Western. It does its own thing–proudly so–and does it well.