On Hollywood Road

Days of Dirty Air

Posted in Uncategorized by Alex Daye on March 24, 2010

Ellis and I have been dying to go to the Woo Ping Optical Company ever since Brandice first wrote about it in the j.a.daye Guide to Hong Kong, and so, despite the fact that yesterday’s was the smoggiest, filthiest air ever recorded in Hong Kong, we set out for a walking tour of North Point and Tin Hau- with only a day a week off work, we weren’t about to let a little pollution ruin it! I don’t know whether our excitement at discovering this fabulous shop lessened the effect of the fumes and dust or whether we’ve just developed iron lungs, but we literally hardly noticed.

An early inspiration for our Moustache sign

Both Ellis and I have been fans of nerdy glasses for many, many years, and one thing we have always found so cool about Hong Kong is how ubiquitous they still are here- and not in the way they are ubiquitous in say, New York City: here they are worn by young and old, and only sometimes with irony.

Ellis and I in our new nerdy specs

Another great difference between buying retro glasses in Hong Kong and New York City is the pricetag. While I’m pretty sure I paid more than USD 40.00 for my last pair from Sol Moscot, I actually paid less than that for these much cooler ones! Plus I had the pleasure of hanging out in a shop with almost perfect brand stuff: signs, business cards, receipts, &etc…

So thrilled with our purchases, we decided to go ahead and wear them, even though we were both in our contact lenses- and truthfully, they probably helped keep the sting of airborne toxins from our bothering our eyes while we meandered from North Point to our favorite Hong Kong neigborhood, Tin Hau, or more specifically, the bit of Tin Hau known as Tai Hang, a low rise neighborhood with a funny mix of mechanics, car painters, and cute cafes, bars and restaurants- presumably for those dropping off their Rolls Royce for a paint job? In any case, we ate lunch at Panda, a fantastic Japanese curry house which I heartily recommend, before having a wander around Tai Hang’s charming old streets.

A very old street sign

Alleyway garden with laundry

Auto shop


From Tai Hang, it’s a surprisingly short little jaunt to Causeway Bay, where we took in the Hong Kong Flower Show, which, though slightly bizarre and absolutely teeming with photographers leaning in for extreme closeups, usually with a telephoto lens, is absolutely worth a visit.

This cutie is made from organic vegetables

Our favorite exhibit- so arty!

Though there was a lot more of this type of stuff…


Men who inspire: Michael Rogge

Posted in Uncategorized by Alex Daye on March 18, 2010

It seems somewhat appropriate, given this week’s surprise news that on Wing Lee Street here in Sheung Wan, a charming and increasingly rare stretch of tenements from the 1950s and 60s has been spared the wrecking ball, to share the fabulous videos of Michael Rogge, if for no other reason to see all that has been lost. Rogge is an amateur Dutch filmmaker who lived as an expat banker in Hong Kong from 1949 to 1955- an exceptionally dapper expat, I might add: Rogge and the men featured in his films stroll along McDonnell Road in crisply tailored shirts and trousers with nary a drop of sweat soiling them, sunbathe on the roof of their apartment buildings with impossibly big windows and stunning views of Victoria Harbor, pile into convertibles for picnics and swimming at Big Wave Bay and Sai Kung, living, in other words, exactly the kind of glamorous lives one dreams of (well, if that one is me) when first contemplating a move to Hong Kong.

It may very well be too late to live such picturesque life here in 2010, and God knows, we do try, but one senses that the tide is turning, and we might yet be spared the fate of living inside a giant shopping mall.