Category Archives: Quirky things to see

A meeting with a McLaren 

One of my neighbours told me that he was invited to test drive a Rolls Royce in Hong Kong via LinkedIn last week. 

He was very surprised to have made it onto the target list and quite intrigued about how the algorithm/ marketing person decides what job titles would be the right level for Rolls Royce ownership. (R, if you do go, can we join you for the ride?)

I walk past the McLaren and Rolls Royce dealerships in Wu Chung House, Wanchai, almost everyday. I’ve seen parties thrown in the Rolls Royce showroom but never seen anyone browsing. The “Wraiths” do disappear from time to time, presumably for photo shoots, display elsewhere or perhaps test drives. It’s always a sight when the staff open those glass doors and drive the Rolls straight out onto the pavement, off the curb bouncing off onto the street.

Interview in the McLaren Showroom

The McLaren showroom is a different matter. Linked to the Rolls showroom by an internal door (same owner perhaps), it’s starkly contrasted by having a black interior floor and ceiling. The Rolls Royce showroom is lit up in a “heavenly white” (sort of a creamy butter-white actually). 


The McLaren showroom hasn’t hosted any parties but it does occasionally host interviews and provides a backdrop. A sports supercar or two do occasionally disappear for a day or two but nowhere near as often as the Rolls Royce. 


The McLaren cars are quite a marvel to look at, although I wish that the owner and staff would not be such anti social and marketing idiots. I mean, why put a toy McLaren car in the window that says “Not For Sale”? 


If it’s not for interacting, why display it at all? Tesla on the other hand has a toy car in the window and it is for sale. You can get the same colour car for your kid. Inspiration and aspiration both rolled into one.


Why have a showroom on the ground floor by a bus stop if you’re not inviting people in?

Here’s a list of speeds versus price of McLaren versus the new everyday supercar, Tesla. Now that’s a value proposition.

Tesla versus sports supercars speed versus price by Bloomberg

 Unfortunately McLaren is spelt incorrectly in the table above but you get the idea.

Hong Kong’s first typhoon 8 signal of 2017

The first typhoon of the year that sweeps into town usually generates a lot of excitement. You’ll hear everyone talking about it and stocking up on groceries as though a civil war is about to erupt. Intermittent rain, gusty winds make for a fun time to be outdoors as long as you’re properly attired. This weather calls for sturdy waterproof Wellington boots and wind-proof umbrellas. 


All the shops tape their glass panels to prevent shattering and staff are dismissed once the signal 8 is “hoisted” by the Hong Kong Observatory. The pavements empty out but the streets are full of stuck traffic. Heavy buses loaded with people, underground station platforms are shoulder to shoulder, everyone trying to get on a train home. The trains run less frequently during a typhoon and that contributes to the messy gridlock. 

Here are a few photos of diligent shops taping up their windows. It’s a sight that we never see in South East Asia.


Hay! Restaurant has a lot of glass panels to tape up.


I sense that Tesla only did it because everyone else was… their Xs are too small for the window panel and wouldn’t hold the glass together if something struck it.


MUJI doesn’t take any chances…taped glass top to bottom with another screen behind it.. they’re well prepared for a serious typhoon. This company really has their SOPs down. 


Okashi gallery also did a nice taping job.


Sunlight tower taped their doors but it also looks somewhat decorative.

Here’s a video of the outdoor Wan Chai market at 5pm. All stalls are shut but there is barely any rain or wind. Hmm. The typhoon will probably be gone by tonight, which is too bad as it would be nice to sleep in to the sounds of rain.

World Music Day: Barcella playing at 1563, Hopewell Center (Who is Barcella?)

A new signboard went up outside Hopewell Center advertising the events for World Music Day.

If you’re free on Saturday the 17th of June, you might want to catch Barcella performing Puzzle -a French singer- live on stage at 3.30pm for free. He’s subsequently performing at 8pm at 1563 for a cover charge of HKD 280. 

You can have a look at some of his colourful and dramatic, satirical videos online but this video Ma Douce featuring a sexy stripper is particularly entertaining.


If you don’t understand French (I don’t), the lyrics would be completely lost on you. It’s part of Le French May so a French artist is not at all surprising. Here are the lyrics to the song Puzzle translated into English (courtesy of google translate). Maybe the lyrics might still be lost on you 🙂

PUZZLE by BARCELLA

Cursed Poet Seeks a Supreme Ruler

Melancholy seeks fragile heart

Origami looking for abyss

But how to make the pair?

Tapatoudi seeks end of film

Toutifrouti looks for vitamin

Small Mowgli seeks solid lianas

To get laid in the air

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

Knotted throat looking heart blooms

Kiss stolen looking nursery

Timidity cherhce grain d’folie

To sing the misery

Facalam seeks confetti

Pockieman looking for Dame Woggy

Girl injured looking for disease

To probe the mystery

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Alexandrine

Belly empty cherhce gingerbread

Mantoline looking for melodist

Melanine looks beautiful licorice

To build rainbow

Paste-to-modeler in Paste-à-fix

Catapult seeks cataclysm

Grain of beauty seeks between your thighs

To empty hot air balloon

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Too small

Point

First flea market at the newly renovated Blue House 藍屋 in Wan Chai

If you live in Wan Chai and looking for a flea market today, you’ll find it at the Blue House (藍屋). It’s a lively scene. A small courtyard with music and packed with lots of traders each occupying a mat no larger than a meter square. I’m not sure who is buying… perhaps it may have been busier earlier in the day. It shuts at 6pm and with only an hour to go, I can still see lots of items on display. 

Scenes from the Flea market

My point is this. It’s poorly publicised. I wouldn’t have known about it except that I happened to walk right by it on Queens road east. Not a brochure, poster or banner anywhere in the neighbourhood until today. Why?

I’m keen to find out if the traders thought it was a worthwhile economic activity… perhaps just to get their branding and name featured on the launch of the Blue House

—————-//—————–

I headed back there at 6pm to catch everyone tidying up. I wasn’t terribly impressed with what was for sale, it looked like bric-a-brac and some handicraft, a couple of purse stalls that looked like they were bought from Sham Shui Po (no offence meant, it’s just that they didn’t look special). 

A lady was singing “moon represents my heart” by Teresa Teng accompanied by a guitarist. It was a bit karaoke and folksy. 


There was a sign indicating where the snack booths were so I went in for a look. It was disappointing. The two booths had packed up and the room was small and cramped. Can’t have been much fun being stuffed into a corner.

On the bright side, there was a lady there who was selling twisty balloons. She was giving a few away free to the kids. One girl got an Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen) and I was handed a Spider-Man for the baby. Well, why not. I asked her how business was today and if the event was well attended… “ma ma teh ler” (so-so in Cantonese) was her reply. 

An enterprise promoting cargo bikes and street hawking

At the intersection of Stone Nullah Lane and Queens Road East, there was an interview taking place. It looked like a PR stunt for a company making “cargo bikes”, essentially stalls hitched onto a bicycle (think ice cream man, 1950’s style). A model of one was parked just outside Stone Nullah Tavern and another by the fruit farm chicken shop. I couldn’t quite figure whether the company plans to sell or rent them to small enterprises for use at flea markets and art fairs. Or perhaps it might be legal in Hong Kong to hawk wares on sidewalks and pavements again?


I’m really hoping that the St. James settlement (who managed the renovation of the Blue House and decides its fate) is going to hold nice events and not turn it into a dumpy, junky kind of event venue. I’m certainly less impressed with what they’ve done with the renovation (quality wise) vis-a-vis the Comix Home Base in Mallory Street where there is a theme, distinct sense of purpose, a nice library where kids hang out to read and updated Cha Chan Teng (茶餐厅)where you can have a decent milk tea in air conditioned comfort. 

Hong Kong Monetary Authority – Coin counting and exchange service on wheels

I love quirky Hong Kong

Take this service run by the local monetary authority for example. A mobile truck equipped with coin sorting and counting machines, going district to district to help vendors unload their heavy bags of metal discs, and the rest of us who enjoy hoarding coins in glass bottles, shelves and cookie tins.
What a great service! Everywhere else in the world you’re condemned to finding a bank that will allow you to deposit any coins. In Wanchai market, vendors don’t accept anything smaller than a dollar. So the small denominations mostly get dished out at the supermarkets. 

Better yet, they help you put the money on your octopus card :).


My sincere apologies to Jack F. and J.Y. who have been waiting to unload their hundreds of dollars worth of change. I was supposed to send you an alert when the truck came round to Wan Chai (usually parked outside Wu Chung house)… 

CORRECTION! It’s still here til the end of this week!

You can check the schedule for your district here.

Where to buy cars in Wanchai

I walked by this shop a few days ago. What got my attention was that I noticed only men going in and men coming out. Young men, that is.

How strange I thought.. I wondered what the shop was selling. Aha. They were selling collectible model rally cars of all sorts. 


Every car was carefully boxed for display and presumably a scale model. Given the price point, these cars are not toys to be thrown around.

They had a vintage Mercedes X wing on display, as well as a Batmobile.


F1 cars of all makes and sizes.


And so many  that it fills up the walls right up to the ceilings.


They have another branch


And where do you find this shop? Along Wan Chai road near Heard Street. Nothing striking about their signage so you have to look out for it.  Or get it delivered to you via their online shop.