Archive | October, 2013

Love this: Hong Kong lets its hair down, at last

31 Oct

bunker partyRegular Noodle followers will know by now that I have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong. Loves: food, cheap public transport, weather, beautiful scenery. Hates: shit bars, shit clubs, shit music – mass produced, commercialised banker-baiting shit.

I’ve been trying to get to a Hong Kong ‘bunker party’ for about a year and a half now. A combination of bad timing and unfortunate coincidences has stopped me up until now. Or, up until last weekend. I haven’t even been to that many illegal raves, having hit my latter teens a few years the wrong side of that deathknell for the spontaneous party, the UK Criminal Justice Act. That’s except from the first time I indulged in a disco biscuit – in a lock-up under the Byker Bridge, since you ask. Pretty sure that was an illegal rave, there were certainly lots of tyres.

The Hong Kong Bunker affairs, however, are something else altogether. A reputation for stunning locations – in caves, WW2 bunkers, secret islands and the like – and some decent electronic music you will be unlikely to find down Lan Kwai Fong has led to a loyal, if relatively small underground following. I joined that following with much trepidation – it was going to require a significant investment in time to get there and back; two taxis, a bus and a walk. And the risk that it would be raided by the fun police. Or as they’re called here: the police. Well, I’m glad to report, it was fucking worth it.

Yes, it took about 2 hours to get there and 2 to get back but a rave in an abandoned village in the middle of a forest up a mountain should never be missed. As we turned the final corner of an ear popping climb, the music began to drift through the trees. Then we saw some disco lights falling like multi-coloured jewels over the dark canvas all around us. Torches at the ready we steered single file towards the sound of fun: music, cans of beer spraying everywhere, whelps of delight, balloons exhaling. Turning a final corner and into the dance area proper was something akin to a religious experience – I’ve got a brilliant video of this but WordPress wants me to pay for an upgrade to embed this so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

bunker party

Now the first rule of Bunker Club is you shut the fuck up about bunker club (there was a fear the po-po would be monitoring taxi radios to spot where this dangerously anti-social gathering was held). However, no one reads this blog anyway, so hopefully no harm done.

I would be back in a second. The hours disappeared with each can of Tsingtao; each, er, paracetemol; each unintelligible chat with a thoroughly lovely fucked-up party person. I’d almost lost hope people like this existed over here. The bizarre array of Hallowe’en outfits, from slutty skeletons to predatorial vampires, only served to emphasise the other-worldliness of it all.

We got out just as the sun rose over the South China Sea, warming our tired and bruised bodies. I’d lost the torch long ago, but found a new reason to love Hong Kong.

(update: more pics here)

World War BoJo: Big Posh Sod lands in Hong Kong

18 Oct

boris johnson routemasterYou know how life sometimes decides to piss royally on your cornflakes? So it was with poor old Hong Kong this week.

Now citizens of this schizophrenic little outcrop of China have had to cope with many trials and tribulations over the past 100+ years. Typhoons, fires, cholera, SARS and even an outbreak of the plague close to where I now reside, have all tested the resilience of its people to the limit. That’s not even to mention British colonial rule, and today, an invasion of a different kind by hordes of cash-rich, ill-mannered mainland tourists.

I get the sense Hong Kongers were just about coming to terms with all life had thrown at them when this happened…

Boris in HK

(image: ITV)

Yup, BoJo’s in town gaffe-ing his way around the SAR with his usual aplomb, as part of a 5-day trade visit to China.

One of the new London Routemasters formed one of Boris’ centrepiece photo opportunities in HK. I believe the London mayor is keen to export the idea of a Boris Bus to other countries, although things didn’t get off to a brilliant start here after it was apparently stuck on the cargo boat for several hours after breaking down.

Undeterred the politician who is defined more by his photo opps than any actual policies took to the air in an open-doored helicopter for an Apocalypse Now style sweep across the city, golden mane twirling effortlessly above him.

BJ met George Osborne, who’s been on a similar mission in China seemingly designed to say in BIG capitals: “sorry for hosting the Dalai Lama last year, let’s forget about that and all that human rights nonsense and get as many of you rich sods over to the UK spending your MONEY!”

So it was that dear Gideon declared there is no limit on the number of Chinese students that can study in the UK – hint, hint – and that visa rules for Chinese tourists would be simplified.

Now I’ve got no problem with encouraging rich social elites who probably accrued their wealth illegally in countries which pay little or no heed to human rights to come to the UK to kick-start our economy. You know, cos they sort of owe us anyway for letting them have back Hong Kong even though we’d already named ALL the roads and built loads of stuff there…

I do have a slight issue with the idea that there could be no limit to the number of Chinese students studying in the UK, however. For a Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Osborne is displaying a worrying lack of aptitude for simple mathematics.

There are roughly around 1.4 billion people in China, and a fair proportion of them have the financial means to send their kids abroad to study. However, at the last count, there were fewer than 600,000 undergraduate places available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Apparently 130,000 Chinese are already studying in the UK – although not all on university courses. Let’s see how friendly Georgey boy is to the Middle Kingdomers when that number doubles, or triples over the next few years.

That said, given the trade and investment deals struck with China this week, the UK will soon have no option but to brush off its haughty post-colonial attitudes as Chinese banks and nuclear power stations start popping up all over the People’s Republic of Great Britain.

Transform This!

BoJo’s flying visit at least seems to be going down better with the locals that that of Hollywood director Michael Bay, here in the city to film yet another Transformers film.

As he explained in a brief blog post, a meth’d-up, possible Triad took umbrage to his film crew and tried to shake them down for some “compensation” money – using an air conditioning unit as a stick and, well, there wasn’t a carrot.

Perhaps enraged not just by the methamphetamine coursing through his veins but the dreadful motion pictures Bay has inflicted on the world, the unnamed assailant tried to strike the director.

Bay continues:

That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z—he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guards Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved.

Thank god it was an Air Max Michael. Thank the sweet lord above.

China’s tourist style guide: falling before the first hurdle

4 Oct

chinese touristsIt’s the National Day holiday period in China this week – a time when the nation venerates the founding of modern China by flaunting the newly acquired wealth made possible by its beloved Communist Party. Ish.

Of course one way those slack jawed, badly dressed, free internet hating Middle Kingdomers are increasingly doing this is by travelling the world. Most studies agree that Chinese tourists now spend more than any other nation when holidaying abroad, but on the flip side, so many of them are absolutely dreadful at being tourists. Loud, arrogant, rude, [insert insult here].

Unfortunately, what’s acceptable in many parts of China – public urination, hawking one’s guts out onto the street, and travelling around places of interest in groups of no less than 30, making that great Instagram shot of the Colosseum virtually impossible – is rather frowned upon elsewhere.

All of which leaves us in the West, Hong Kong and elsewhere with something of a dilemma. We moan about their uncouthness but covet their cash. To misquote Stewart Lee, Westerners slagging off Chinese tourists is like a punter punching a prostitute in the face because he’s sickened by his own desire.

So what’s to be done? Do we just sit there and think of England until, eventually, they get the idea and modify their behaviour abroad? After all, it’s sort of worked for Brits abroad if you discount vast swathes of the Med. Well, no actually, because – never one to pass up an opportunity to tell its subjects how to live their lives – the Communist Party has done all the hard work in a newly released Guidebook for Civilised Tourism.

Whilst laudable in its aims – to improve China’s image throughout the world and presumably prevent teenagers from graffiti-ing their names onto priceless Egyptian relics – the result is somewhat bemusing. In fact, the guide itself is testament to just how ignorant China’s leaders are of the world beyond – despite many of them having been schooled abroad at some of the finest universities on the  planet, and UCL.

Yes, there are the obvious rules – don’t swear at locals; don’t steal life jackets from airplanes; don’t piss or gob into fountains; don’t talk about pork to Muslims; and, of course, don’t take a dump standing on the toilet seat. But there are some rather strange bits of etiquette advice too.

Never click your fingers at a German; avoid playing with your hair in Japan; don’t touch people’s heads in India; don’t smash mirrors in Hungary; don’t comment on babies’ eyes in Iran; don’t give yellow flowers to French folk who invite you into their home; and finally, for the ladies, ALWAYS wear earrings in Spain. Now I may be showing my ignorance of some actually well understood tourist faux pas here but my first thought was “what the holy fuck are they on about??”

Still, as long as it eases cross-cultural understanding and helps the world hate itself just a little bit less, I’m all for it. It should also be mentioned, of course, that Chinese tourists are sinned against as well as sinning, with rogue tour operators, unscrupulous cab drivers and money grabbing restaurateurs all guilty of exploiting the poor chaps in various countries.

However, it strikes me that China should probably get its own house in order before teaching its citizens how not to act like a tit abroad.

Reports from Shanghai reveal that visitors to the zoo there chucked over 70 plastic water bottles into the lion’s enclosure, in a situation staff described as “heartbreaking”. Previously a giraffe there apparently died after eating a plastic bag tossed into its enclosure; punters in Hangzhou in January thought it would be hilarious to pelt the lions with snowballs; and in Shenzhen zoo crocs were stoned to death by bell-ends who wanted to see if they were real or not.

Congratulations China. You have made me sympathise with a carnivorous reptile.