Tag Archives: clubbing

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)

Taiwan: Land of t-shirt wrestling and stinky tofu

7 Jun

taiwan beerAhhh Taipei. Another weekend, another new favourite Asian city. I realise I do this gratuitous love-in on an irritatingly frequent basis but I’ve got to say this place is worth fawning over.

Taiwan has a long and chequered history ending in a lengthy period of Japanese colonialism in the late 1800s to 1945, and then the forced immigration of the Kuomintang Chinese nationalists after they were routed by Mao’s lot in the Chinese civil war. This has made it a smaller, friendlier, cleaner, tastier and altogether sexier version of China proper. Some American douchebags I met called it China Light, but that’s doing Taiwan a massive disservice.

The Japanese empire may have departed this island long ago but its cultural remnants cast a long shadow. From the tap-to-open automatic doors to the ubiquitous vending machines and even the hot springs, Japanism is everywhere. And people queue! And, especially refreshing coming from Hong Kong where the locals are tucked up in bed playing Candy Crush on their phablets by 10pm, Taipeiers go out and booze like it’s the end of the world.

taipei cityscape

Case in point: I was awoken in my hotel room on Sunday afternoon by the gentle shaking of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, with no memory of how I got home. Only the blurred pictures of tequila shots on my smartphone and a vague memory of being wrestled out of my t-shirt by a girl called Melody remained. Ahh, Taipei.dancing girls

The Republic of China has been unfairly ignored for much of the past 50 years by the international community but in a lot of ways it’s the kind of place you wish mainland China could have been. Ignore the stinky tofu for a second and you’ve got a free press, good education, a fully functioning healthcare system and lovely people. The PRC still regards it as a territory to be eventually subsumed into the motherland à la Hong Kong, but one visit to the imposing Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei will prove that this is about as likely to happen as Xi Jinping opening a Twitter account.

chiang kai shek

Generalissimo Chiang cuts a forlorn, almost tragic figure in the museum dedicated to his life, beneath the monument. After all, this is the guy – the Kuomintang leader for several decades – who let China slip through his fingers and effectively exiled himself on a small mountainous island. It’s now a place where the rivers flow bereft of even a solitary rotting pig carcass; where the internet takes you to any site you wish, where the police do not arrest elderly women protesting the sexual abuse of their infant daughters; where the air is clean and the rice doesn’t even contain dangerously high levels of cadmium.

He must be kicking himself.