Never-Ending Happy Hour: Hong Kong Pub Crawl

by Sandeep Sharma

So you’re new to Hong Kong – maybe you’re visiting for the weekend, maybe it’s a short holiday or maybe you’ve moved here for a typical white-collar job. On Google and by word of mouth from your Hong Kong long-timer friends you hear of Lan Kwai Fong. The name itself is quite a mouthful for a new expat yuppie, so you decide to venture out there with a friend of a friend to see what the nightlife is like. You’re drinking the 7-11 “Buy Two for $30” Apple ciders and being denied entry into Volar, Dragon I and basically any actual club. The streets are great but let’s face it, it’s full of either broke University kids or minors trying to Snapchat. That’s where Pub Crawl comes in – a guided tour through select bars and pubs in Hong Kong’s very own. With free shots at each of the selected seven bars of the night and discounted beers – it really serves as a vehicle for a newbie to venture out into Hong Kong and befriend expats and locals alike.

The night usually begins with some pre-gaming at the IFC rooftop followed by rounds through seven relatively decent quality pubs where there’s a free shot for every “Pub Crawler” and discounted drinks. The crowd of fresh blooded people -new to Hong Kong and still allowing the insane adrenaline of the city to sink into their skin – would remind anybody of their first few months in Hong Kong, where the parties ended at 8 am and more often than not, the mornings were spruced with a “walk of shame” and a wonderfully chirpy hangover. The relatively low price for joining ($100 HKD) unfortunately means that occasionally the crowd at the Pub Crawl may not be the best mannered or behaved lot.

The inherit problem with the pub-crawl is that it is truly something that suits the needs of visitors or the “once in a year” party animal – but not to those who are used to the debauchery which Hong Kong boasts of. While for a newbie it maybe nice to “get down” to some hip-hop at a bar with other “FOBs”, for those of us who know about the hyped clubs, ice bars and bunkers – it maybe a waste of money. The pubs selected are relatively obscure with the night ending with an entry to a decent dance club. This setting is ideal for the aforementioned people and truly it serves as a great way to introduce newbies into the decadence and moral dilemmas that Hong Kong so often puts us in. If the Pub Crawl actually went ahead and diversified itself to cater to the needs of the pseudo-party lovers then perhaps by expanding their base, they could cater to the varied needs of Hong Kong’s party animals.

After trying out the Pub Crawl, you might want to meet HK’s other party animals. Us! We’re partying for All That Junk‘s 1st Anniversary Party. Come join us 🙂

Is there life after Hong Kong? Why you just have to leave sometimes.

Is there life after Hong Kong? Why you just have to leave sometimes.

By Fabienne Lang

Here it comes again, you told yourself you wouldn’t allow yourself to feel this way today, that today was the day you would conquer this unreasonable emotion. Alas, the prayers were in vain, it has happened once more, you have allowed that bubbling surge of irritation and frustration take you over as you walk down the pavement to work trapped behind a meandering and unpredictable fellow pedestrian.

It is times like these, caught behind these zigzagging amblers (most of which are glued to their mobile contraptions) that I tell myself I am most definitely leaving Hong Kong. Tomorrow. Ok, maybe next month, once I figure out where I would in fact move to. The one thing I know, it will be somewhere with wider pavements.

Pavements aside, why would anyone ever want to leave this metropolis of fun and frolicking? There is a constant stream of newcomers, frothing at the mouth with excitement to meet new people and experience all that Hong Kong has to offer. There is something for everybody here. Anything from lazy beach or junk days, to a solid workout from the many hikes available, or trying out the new hot and exotic bars and restaurants popping up around the city on an almost weekly basis.

The list goes on. If you learn to balance work and fun, then why would you ever leave Hong Kong?

I should perhaps be the last person to point out the reasons to leave the city, given I was born and raised on the island. As a long-timer I was one of the kids who welcomed, and then inevitably wished farewell to the many transitory students who only passed through HK.

The same happens in adulthood, working here means saying goodbye to some of your closest friends, time and time again. This becomes tiring emotionally, especially as you then have to go through the same motions of meeting new people. Friendships aside, let’s now focus on flat sizes. Who cares that I’m in my late twenties and have gone back to sleeping in a single bed, and that my rent is almost half of my salary, that’s acceptable here, right?

Unless you work in finance, law or real estate, your paycheque will not be an appropriate representation of the amount of hours you work. The constant exhaustion of 10 to 12 hour workdays coupled with an active social life will leave your mind and health depleted, and your wallet empty.

For a breath of fresh unpolluted air into your lungs, a decently sized flat, your poor liver, your heart’s incapacity to say goodbye to someone special yearly, and because your blood pressure just can’t take one more pedestrian walking at the speed of a snail. I ask you: where to next?

Discover more articles on life in Hong Kong in the All That Blog newsletter! Signing-up this month for the newsletter might mean a free t-shirt for you…

 

Hong Kong’s Upcoming Neighborhoods – Kennedy Town/Aberdeen

Hong Kong’s Upcoming Neighborhoods – Kennedy Town/Aberdeen

By Alicia A. Beale

As part of a new series, All That Junk highlights Hong Kong’s upcoming neighborhoods. Some of the neighborhoods are already well-known, some are dark side secrets and some are quiet hamlets perfect for stepping outside the hubbub but all these places have communities filled with unique quirks and perks. We start on the West Side of Hong Kong Island with…

Kennedy Town

Now while I sorely miss the Retro Bar’s mix of 70’s lounge and Nepalese kitsch, gentrification has done well by Kennedy Town. It has retained its friendly neighborly vibe. You can still meet your neighbors at the corner 7-11 where you might also see the laundry lady get her weekly cigarettes. Around 7pm on the waterfront near the Merton, you can find a group of dog walkers who stop to let their dogs friskily play with each other in the small park. On Smithfield Rd, you’ll find the famous all night dim sum hole in the wall, Sung Hing Restaurant. Mind if you get really really drunk, to please bring a Cantonese speaking friend or you might have trouble with ordering and might make a very obnoxious display of yourself so perhaps like me, you will be exiled by extremely dirty looks. Want to see your neighbors in Speedos and with sunburn? Check out the open air swimming pool on Catchick Street. The people who bought you a 20 minute MTR ride from Ktown to Central will be pimping out the pool too with the completion of an indoor multi-functional pool, a teaching pool and a Jacuzzi in its phase II project.

BUT now on the gentrified end, professionals can find lectures, workshops and networking events at the co-working space, The Hive, a short walk up Smithfield Rd from the MTR, and playful people can find drinks along the waterfront at Bulldogs, Old China Hand, or Tequila on Davis. Those pushing prams/strollers/baby carriages can find like minded families brunching at Kinsale, Jaspa’s and K-town Bar & Grill. Singletons will enjoy the scene at Le Comptoir’s French tapas bar.

Now there’s a bit of culture happening in Kennedy Town too. Some of it is thanks to the close proximity of the University of Hong Kong which has many lectures and exhibitions on campus as well as professors who walk down from the HKU lofty pillars to debate theories in coffee shops of Pacific Coffee or Lex Coffee. Also in Sai Wan, you can browse the art laden walls of Ethos where you can grab a light lunch and hipster attire. And speaking of hipster, there’s the craft beer purveyors Tramline Liquor Company and Sunday Grocery which is owned by the guys of Yardbird and also has Japanese Fried Chicken as a specialty.

If you could get all your friends to live in Kennedy Town, there would be no reason to step foot in Central for fun.

Aberdeen/Wong Chuk Hang

A taxi ride from Kennedy Town over or around a medium sized hill on Victoria Rd will take you to Aberdeen. You might want to get there before the MTR if you you’re looking to buy or rent. Aberdeen is becoming amazing and amazing won’t come cheap after it becomes convenient.

Recently I went googling for a private kitchen and it was all Wong Chuk Hang for food and surprisingly also for furniture. Private kitchens like Xi Yan Penthouse which seats you in its open dining room surrounded by antique Ming dynasty styled furniture as well as culinary demonstrations happening while you dine on gourmet Chinese cuisine. Within the 4000 sq. feet of art wanderlust which encapsulates the confines of Dine Art, Chef Cosimo’s private kitchen serves supremely delicious Italian fare. I’ve had a birthday in the laidback simplicity of Pomegranate’s minimal space where the Mediterranean diet is well-served with an outdoor terrace for enjoying quality conversation with friends before and after your meal. If you’re purely just interested in furniture besides the many interior design firms nestled away in Ap Lei Chau lofts and the furniture shops galore in Horizon Plaza, there’s the Lane Crawford mega furniture outlet.

And then there’s the sea. I love the sea. Do you? Come see the sea on the Aberdeen promenade where you can get a bit of history from the statues that recall Aberdeen as a serious fishing village which is a history that you can also glimpse at the north end of the promenade where the sampans still ferry people from or to Lamma Island. You might be able to coerce some ol’school sampan captains with a little cash to take you on a Uber style on demand ferry ride to Lamma. I’ve been on a late late night/early morning private ride from Lamma and it was a stunning experience.

A Three-Day Guide to Drinking in HK

A Three-Day Guide to Drinking in HK

By Chip Whitley

As All That Junk begins planning our soon to be announced 1st Year Anniversary Party, we want you thinking about drinking and how Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world for it. So we follow our writer Chip Whitley’s guide for a proper 3-day bender.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s great drinking towns. Like Chicago, or Dublin, or Mexico City, or Tokyo – our city has a boozy stride that ambles through the night and on into the weekend.

Day One

Fridays start as close as feasibly to the office. After-work beer, wine, and a bite of something (hopefully cheese) take the edge off the week. Progress will be made to something more substantial, eventually.

At the cooked food market in North Point, beers are sloshed through blue porcelain bowls and Asian cuisine is taken to its logical extremes. Perhaps you made it South of Hollywood Road, or to Knutsford Terrace, or Sheung Wan for dinner, where the transition to a before-midnight bar is smoother. Either way, a substantial subsistence is necessary to carry you forth into the hours of the night.

After eats, there’s a place for cocktails – something classy and bubbly – especially if it’s going well, and the craic is good.

Right when Friday night becomes technically Saturday morning, Wanchai looms. Teenagers who can’t afford bars nod in the street, sailors drink arm and arm, and the older gentlemen slip off and lose the moniker of gentleman.

Day Two

Inevitably there is Lan Kwai Fong. I prefer to avoid it until I’m good and ready, but once you’re in the maelstrom it’s all perfectly acceptable. Mob rule takes hold and high heels get stuck in cobblestones. Try to catch them if they stumble, we’re all in it together.

Maybe you eat before your head hits the pillow. There’s that 4:00 a.m. dim sum joint in Kennedy Town that’s remarkably good. Once, a Mexican girl asked me to fuck in the back of the line at the Sai Ying Pun McDonalds, but that’s a more specific story.

The sun comes up and you just get an inkling to go on home. I don’t know, sometimes I just don’t know. You’ll get there eventually.

Day Three

Somehow, in spite of it all, you make roll call for the Sunday morning junk.

The diesel fumes pooling at Pier 10 may make one nauseous at first, but a sea breeze will cure that real quick. Grapefruit juice is good that way.

What can one say about junks?

Usually it’s a combination of Hong Kong squads and F.O.B.’s. They’re an inclusive adventure fueled by an encouraged day-drunkenness.

[Pro-tip: get out front while you’re steaming out from pier. There’s no better view on earth than Hong Kong’s skyline from Victoria Harbor (and I’ve been everywhere, man)].

Wind in your hair and yesterday forgotten, the day starts by mingling with old friends. With that first drink in hand, one tends to re-ascend to the lofty heights of the previous evening, bypassing the wallow of a normal hung over morning.

The geography of junks is designed to combine small groups, and under the sheltered muster station you can toast the night before.

Generally there will be three crews gathering; the bow upfront in the wind crew; the sunny open top deck crew; and round the u-bench in the covered stern crew.

Discover more articles on life in Hong Kong in the All That Blog newsletter! Signing-up this month for the newsletter might mean a free t-shirt for you…

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)