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McRefugees – The Hong Kong Poor Who Call McDonald’s Home

They are known as “McRefugees” or “McSleepers”, homeless or lonely people in Hong Kong who spend their nights at 24h McDonald’s restaurants, and their number is apparently growing at an alarming rate.

Hong Kong is notorious for its obscenely expensive housing market and the inhumane cage-like dwellings that some of the island’s inhabitants are forced to sleep in. Some of these housing units lack basic amenities like running water and private toilets, not to mention air conditioning, so it’s no wonder that some people prefer to spend their nights at 24/7 McDonald’s restaurants. There were around 256 such “McRefugees” in Hong Kong in 2015, but data released earlier this year shows that their number has grown by 50% in the last three years and is predicted to keep on growing.

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Hong Kong Woman Gets Scammed into Marrying Total Stranger

A 21-year-old woman from Hong Kong who though she was undergoing a ‘mock wedding test’ to secure a job as a wedding planner ended up officially married to a total stranger from mainland China.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told authorities that her ordeal began in May of this year, when she saw a social media posting about a job as a make-up artist apprentice. It offered a monthly salary of HK$14,000 (US$1,800) as well as free training, and required no previous work experience at all. Most people would call that “too good to be true”, but the young woman decided it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Turns out she was wrong.

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Low-Tech Tinder – Hong Kong Vending Machine Helps Singles Find Dates

Vending machines are very popular in Asia, with businesses using them to sell just about anything, even live crabs. However, one Honk Kong entrepreneur has found a way to take vending machines to a whole new level, by designing one that sells dates to singles looking for a low-tech alternative to online dating services like Tinder.

The “Fate Capsule” vending machine outside BT Reptile, a small pet store in Kowloon’s Shek Kip Mei neighborhood, received worldwide attention earlier this year, when word of the original concept went viral online. It’s basically a multi-tiered vending machine with separate compartments for men and women which dispenses colored plastic capsules containing the contact details of singles looking for love. All you have to do is insert HK$20 ($2.5) in coins, and it will spit out a fate capsule with the description and contact information of a prospective date.

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In This Hong Kong Neighborhood Golf Carts Cost More Than Luxury Cars

Golf carts aren’t the fastest, most comfortable, or most spacious vehicles money can buy, but in Discovery Bay, an upscale residential development in Hong Kong, they are more coveted than Porsches, Teslas or other luxury cars.

In the US, the average price of a golf cart is around $10,000, but in Discovery Bay, the slow-moving buggy can sell for a whopping $250,000 (HK$2 million). That’s more than some people are willing to pay for a home, let alone a vehicle that barely qualifies as a car. But there’s a reason to this madness. You see, private passenger cars aren’t allowed in this upscale neighborhood of Hong Kong, and residents require a special license for golf carts as well, the number of which has been capped to 500 by the Transportation Department. The demand for motorized transportation in Discovery Bay offset by a supply crunch has catapulted the modest golf cart to luxury vehicle status.

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Hong Kong Startup Turns Concrete Water Pipes into Stylish Micro-Houses

The tiny house movement has taken off over the past decade as urban developers have had to find creative solutions to soaring property prices worldwide. James Law Cybertecture of Hong Kong has joined this trend with their newly released Opod Tube House, made from repurposed concrete pipe.

Hong Kong, one of the most populous cities on the planet, has been especially hard hit as home prices have shattered historical records for 12 straight months this past year. According to the Bangkok Post, an apartment sold this past November for HK 32,060 (USD 6,915) per square foot, making it the most expensive apartment per square foot in all of of Asia. This trend has forced over 200,000 people into tiny partitioned apartments, averaging no more than 62 square feet, and some are only able to afford individual caged beds. Government data shows a 9% increase in the number of households living in “inadequate housing,” including partitioned flats and industrial buildings.

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Honk Kong Supermarket Sells Individually-Packaged Strawberries for $22

Looking for an original Valentine’s Day gift? How about a special Kotoka strawberry hand-picked in Japan that comes pre-packed in a special gift box? It’s said to be very tasty, and it only costs $22.

City’super, a supermarket chain in Hong Kong, has come under fire recently for selling what many have called “the most expensive strawberry in the world”. Priced at 168 HK dollars a piece, these Kokota strawberries are apparently hand-picked to ensure that only the finest specimens hit the market, and flown in from Japan. They come individually packaged in plastic-covered paper boxes, complete with a straw nest and Styrofoam “sock”, to emphasize their exclusivity. Photos of the ridiculously expensive “designer fruits” have been doing the rounds on social media in Hong Kong and mainland China, with most people declaring themselves appalled by the display of decadence.

The supermarket, which advertises itself as a “mega lifestyle specialty store”, has responded to the negative feedback by saying that the retail prices of its products are based on a number of factors, including purchase price, transport costs, market conditions and product exclusivity. City’super representatives also added that the supermarket was merely trying to offer “more choices of premium fresh produce to Hong Kong customers”, and that the Kotoka strawberries were intended as special Valentine’s Day Gifts. After all, who doesn’t find a $22 strawberry romantic.

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Inspiring Paraplegic Athlete Climbs 500-Meter High Mountain in His Wheelchair

On December 9th, 2011, champion rock-climber Lai Chi-wai suffered a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. On the same day, five years later, he climbed Hong Kong’s iconic Lion Rock once again, this time in a wheelchair.

33-year-old Lai Chi-wai is a four-time winner of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships, but on a faithful day, five years ago, his promising athletic career seemed to be over, following a devastating motorcycle accident. “When I woke up, I was already in the hospital and had been operated on. The staff told me … I was paralyzed from the waist down and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” the young rock climber recalls.

For his family and friends, the tragic outcome of the accident meant that he could no longer do the one thing that truly gave him a feeling of fulfillment – climbing heights. But despite losing the use of his legs, Lai Chi-wai wasn’t ready to give up on his passion. After recovering from the accident, he took up wheelchair boxing, a relatively new sport that he claims improves mental focus and physical fitness of paraplegics and increases their confidence, but he also continued to train with his old mountain climber friends.

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Hong Kong’s Unique Sanctuary of Discarded Deities

In Hong Kong, when people damage their statues of deities or simply replace them with newer ones, they don’t throw them away. Instead they leave them on the side of the road for people to worship or take them home. One man has been picking them up for over 17 years, and today his colorful collection is one of the island’s most impressive tourist attractions.

85-year-old Wong Wing-pong, a retired butcher, looks after thousands of unwanted statues of deities, including Buddhas, Taoist deities, local gods and Christian icons. They are all perched on a rocky slope in a park near the waterfront in Wah Fu. Legend has it that he picked this spot because it already had a statue of Tin Hau, the patron goddess of fishermen, and he believed it would make it easier for people to come see both the Buddhas and the goddess at the same time. However, he recently told news reporters that it was simply the place where he found the first discarded statues, a few dozen of them, 17 years ago.

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This Rainbow Grilled Cheese Sandwich Is All the Rage in Hong Kong These Days

This colorful grilled cheese looks like it belongs in a My Little Pony show, but it’s actually a real treat that’s all the rage in Hong Kong. It’s called the Rainbow Sandwich and consists of two slices of bread four different types of cheese, flavorings and, obviously, a lot of food dye.

The sandwich, a creation of Kala Toast, recently got its five minutes of fame after Instagram user @hkfoodiexblogger posted a photograph of the snack along with a brief review on his account. It got shared by his fans and eventually went viral after being picked up by major websites.

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Women in Hong Kong Are Trying to Lose Weight by Staring at the Sun

Sun gazing is a bizarre new weight-loss trend in China – it has women staring directly at the sun, hoping to magically melt away the excess pounds!

The therapy, believed to be of European origin, suggests that looking at the sun will provide you with enough solar energy to substitute for calories from real food. So dieters are hoping that if they stare at the sun long enough, they could skip eating entirely.

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World’s First Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant Serves the Cutest Dim Sum

The Japanese creators of Hello Kitty have decided to oblige the character’s massive Hong Kong fan base by giving them the world’s first Hello Kitty-themed Chinese restaurant. Sanrio Co. has teamed up with Chinese restaurateur Man Kwong to create an incredibly cute Hello Kitty dining experience in Hong Kong.

“Hello Kitty is more popular in Hong Kong than in Japan,” said Kwong, who started negotiations with Sanrio in 2013. The official nod came through in April 2014, and since then, he has worked hard experimenting on hundreds of recipes and varieties of dim sum. Each dish was individually inspected, taste-tested, and approved by Sanrio executives. The final menu consists of 37 dishes, ranging from fresh shrimp buns to stir-fried beef and noodles.

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Hong Kong Toddlers Take Special Classes to Make Sure They Get into the Best Nurseries and Kindergartens

Believe it or not, the kindergarten scene in Hong Kong is so fiercely competitive that tiny toddlers are expected to take special classes to get prepped for nursery interviews!

You might wonder what the big deal is about nursery school – kids just play and take naps, right? But parents in Hong Kong actually view it as an important phase that could determine their child’s future. They strongly believe in the cascading effect – admission to the best kindergartens will lead to the best primary schools, best secondary schools, and eventually, the best universities.

“It’s the only topic that comes up when you go out for lunch, which school your kid got into, which school are you applying for and how are you preparing your child for it?” one mother revealed. “My friends have sent me spreadsheets with a detailed timetable of when schools are available for applications and how to apply.”

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McDonald’s Restaurants Becoming Popular Wedding Venues in Hong Kong

More and more young couples in Hong Kong are turning to McDonald’s fast-food restaurants to fit their shoestring wedding budgets. With prices starting as low as $350 per wedding, the place is pretty much a steal – the deal includes the venue, decorations, audio equipment, food, gifts and invitations. The dream wedding has only one drawback – years later, couples will have to tell their kids that they got married at McDonald’s.

Surprisingly, not many couples are bothered by this. The demand for McDonald’s weddings is growing in Hong Kong – the wedding party program that was started in three locations in 2011, has now been extended to 15 branches. And, believe it or not, it’s not just about the money, there’s a sentimental value associated with getting hitched at McDonald’s.

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Notoriously Bad Food Makes Hong Kong Restaurant Insanely Popular with Bad-Eating Groups

The food at Ming General Japanese Sushi Restaurant in Hong Kong is so bad, it actually has its own fan following. In fact the sushi chain is so popular that it has 6 branches located in various parts of the island city, which are regularly visited by bad eaters who dare each other to finish the cheap but hard-to-swallow sushi dishes they serve.

19-year-old Don Tsang, an active member of one of Hong Kong’s ‘bad-eating groups’, said: “It’s the worst. So it’s the most popular.” To me, that’s just weird logic, but it seems to make perfect sense to these groups that actively seek out what they consider bad food, and then spend hours discussing it.

So what exactly is it that makes the food at Ming General so bad? According to food blogger Patrick Lai, 38, the deep fried scallop sushi and the mini-sized prawn sushi are the worst. “They’re very small and very skinny. I don’t know where the restaurant can find such skinny prawns.” Another notable dish, he said, is the tuna sushi, which is served with a ‘mushy brown pool of liquid topping’. The restaurant is also notorious for its unusual dishes like fruit salad sushi and corn salad sushi.

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Smog-Covered Hong Kong Installs Clear Skyline Banners for Vacation Photos

Hong Kong has one of the world’s most stunning skylines. The problem is it’s becoming barely visible behind the dense curtain of smog that has engulfed several of the city’s districts, and even harder to capture in vacation photos. Unable to fix the air pollution problem, tourism authorities have instead decided to install clear skyline banners where tourists can have their pictures taken.

This week, Hing Kong’s Air Pollution Index reached “very high” levels in Central and Western District, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with very high concentrations of toxic ozone and nitrogen dioxide recorded by local monitoring stations. Apart from the obvious health-related issues, the heavy smoke covering the island city is also hurting the local tourism business. According to Chinese newspaper China Daily, the frequent air pollution has contributed greatly to the decline in tourist numbers, with a recent survey revealing a rise in “complaints focused on the environment at scenic spots” around China. After all, what good is a city’s magnificent skyline if you can barely see it? Luckily, Hong Kong authorities have come up with a novel solution to this problem – they installed a number of panoramic banners displaying a clear view of the city at various scenic spots. Here, people can take smog-free photos of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, to have as souvenirs.

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