My city guide to Hong Kong in collaboration with FURLA x HELLO KITTY. with a local's touch.
Photographed by Nathan Jolliffe and I
HK & HK [[ HELLO KITTY & Hong Kong]]
My childhood started in Hong Kong, from the Kowloon hospital I was delivered from, to the sky scrapping apartment we grew up in till I was 5. Hello Kitty was a recurring theme for birthdays and play dates. So, when FURLA asked me to shoot their latest collaboration with Hello Kitty, it meant a flight to Hong Kong, and a family reunion with my parentals & Nathan. We shot these throughout our whirlwind week of spontaneous live music, Dad's exhibition, and sight seeing.
I love the contrast of Hong Kong Island & Kowloon. Hong Kong island; built up with skyscrapers amongst some of the tallest & most prestigious; shiny, futuristic, where corporate offices live and - if you're in the know, also home to an abundance of restaurants and bars that fill the rooftops and level twenty something's, it's where you go for some Moscow mule, jazz or a bit of techno. But if you're after a different point of view, MTR to the first stop in Kowloon and you're in for a grimey treat. The air is stickier, and there's a constant flow of movement, through alley ways and back streets. Old signage, that remain from the 70's and pastel buildings that curve, not corner, align each block. This is where the locals eat, hang out and hustle. I love documenting the heat of Kowloon, I always feel like I'm transported back in time. Both as fun as the other, just depends if you’re after the future or the past. Welcome to my city guide and photo diary in the land of shrimp wontons and bar hopping, my parents gave us a tour of all the goods.
FIRST STOP: Hong Kong ISLAND
A Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.
Where to stay:
The Murray (Hong Kong Island) - This is a new hotel in Central, and an absolute godsend. I mean this in the most genuine way. The most hospitable staff I have experience out of all the hotels I've stayed in (across the globe), and they also have one of my favourite in-room dining menu's. The Wellness Spa is also one to experience... think an hour of absolute relaxation covered in essential oils of Lavender, Geranium Rose & Bergamote.
Where to quick bite:
Mak’s Noodle: For some OG Shrimp Wonton’s. This is the first and last place I stop at, and there’s one in every suburb. It’s quaint, and has everything you need for a HK meal. I always order the classic shrimp wonton with a side of Gai Lan.
Lunch, Dinner & drinks:
Duddell’s: Michelin starred… but if you’re not good at eating everything with Chopsticks, please practise, kidding, but seriously.
Little Bao: Modern Chinese diner in Sheung Wan, which is also in the new street to go — filled with up and coming restaurants and bars.
Mott 32: Ok, if you’re after Char Siu but the fancy kind this is the best place to order it from. The interiors are also incredible and so is everything else off the menu.
Cafe Gray: This is the type of restaurant I spoke about earlier that is hidden high up in a twenty something level building, with views of the entire city.
Shangri-La’s Lobster bar and grill: I remember stumbling upon this bar back in 2014, with two friends. We sat here for hours drinking their cocktails and listening to live jazz. I think it was the first moment I realised that Whiskey is not for me.
God bless, the city life.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
When it all becomes too much, because this city is New York City multiplied by five in speed, and divided by 10 in size. We spent about 4 hours here soaking up the serenity & space. This is a HK survivor's tip, because I'm not good with zero personal space, and Nathan's not good with too many people. It's a place to wind down and slow down. Tip; book lunch in the garden restaurant, it's modernised buddhist cuisine (vegetarian), and each dish is beautifully flavoured. Oh, and if the humidity is catching up to you, I suggest a fan.
Bar hopping, & in exact order
Ping Pong City: A little speakeasy bar; ping pong from the outside, bar from the in.
The Iron Fairies: Dive bar style, live music, ceiling filled with butterflies, you can also sit in giant cauldrons.
Foxglove: A highlight of my night, because jazz bar + Hendricks = Happy Yan. We spent a good hour and a half here, mesmerised by the plates of pasta & the Jazz singer that drummed at the same time.
Dragon I: Don’t ask, I don't know how we ended up in here but it was a classic HK club. Good dances were had.
Tsui Wah Restaurant: The place to end the night, to avoid all hangovers. Open 24 hours and serves all the food you desire when you’re in no place to converse.
KILLING IT IN KOWLOON.
And.. to be transported back in time.
My guilty pleasure after a late night out in HK is perusing the aisles of 7/11. Cup noodles by Shin Ramen, because they're free of MSG, & Kimchi noodles in a cup is my favourite food to DNM over. My parents and I also always stop here after lunch, because- they have the best Japanese green tea ice-cream. MATCHA FOR DAYS.
Mong Kok in the rain reminds me of every dystopian film I have ever seen, and I mean this in the best possible light. I love the aesthetic of old billboards and signage, layered amongst each other; it's really a place of colour vomit, some worn in time, some freshly painted. You really don't see this anywhere else, the streets of sneaker stores, or if you're like me, just come for the Yu Dan's and hectic atmosphere.