A Postcard from Hong Kong

By Drake's

Mar 22, 2024

A Postcard from Hong Kong

Happy Valley isn’t Cheltenham. Opened in 1845, a metropolis has been conjured around it, floodlights illuminating horses, jockeys and pilgrims who descend every Wednesday for a chance to bet, cheer or just hang out. Hong Kong’s towering skyline visible from every angle. Old regulars in worn baseball caps hunch over newspapers and press radios close to their ears, pouring over odds. We opt for names that stand out: Strongest Boy and Can’t Go Wong which, it turns, out can go wrong… not that we mind too much. 

We’re here to celebrate the opening of the Drake’s pop-up at Pedder Arcade, a few days hustling around one of our favourite cities. At night the boxy red Toyota Crown taxis reflect neon from their blackened windows, places to go. Rickety double-decker trams, colloquially called ‘ding dings’ by locals, snake throughout the city, ushering us through and towards the seafood market at Sheung Wan, diners and dim sum restaurants that run until the early hours and down towards the old harbours and ports that turned this city into a densely-packed powerhouse.  

“Dining here isn’t fussy,” says Junyin, who grew up in the city. “You get seated, you eat, you leave. Some dim sum places are sociable, but speed and efficiency is the signature thing here.” We see that philosophy displayed in full effect at Sun Hing, down by the water in Kennedy Town. Waiters with lined faces roll dim sum trolleys through the crowded tables, there’s no menu, a chef calls out from the kitchen what dishes are ready to go and you jam your hand up to try and get in on the action. Har Gow, Cantonese dumplings, steamed with prawn, are shaped using the back of cleavers and sent out in their hundreds by chefs in white jackets. This tightly-choreographed dim sim dance happens every day from 3AM-4PM. 

During the warm afternoons you can see old men gather on plastic chairs to chew the fat, tiny birds hanging in cages by the their side. Skyscrapers loom over the ancient markets at Kowloon and Mong Kok: fruit, vegetables, clothes and jade. We were told about a man, Ouyang Chang, who is one of the last remaining masters of Cantonese calligraphy, painting business signs by hand over in North Point.

There’s also some peace and quiet to be found here. A short hike towards the immaculately-named Say Wan Swimming Shed, a cove and calm water. Junyin wants us to say he grew up swimming here… but it’s actually his first time. We bob in the afternoon sunshine, watching the Star Ferry chug out from Victoria Harbour and into the distance.

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