Category Archives: Hong Kong

Stags Only: The best bachelor holidays

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Planning a bachelor party with the boys? Skip Las Vegas and Bangkok and try these holiday ideas from ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY.

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So you’re getting hitched and your wild lifestyle is threatened by an Extinction Level Event (read marriage). Mad drunken parties with the boys, binge eating, dirty weekends, scanning dance floors and bars for fun, checking out the ‘scene’, ah the joys of bachelorhood… All this might seem history to the groom apparent, however, your friends couldn’t care less. They just want you to ride into the sunset of marital fidelity with all guns blazing. The idea is to go out and have fun. Here’s how to make it a bachelor party to remember… or forget!

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Get high in Dubai
What better way to celebrate with your mates than getting high together? And what better place than the world’s tallest building and the loftiest observation deck? Just short of a kilometer (828 m, 160 stories) At The Top in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is as high as it gets. Make it special with a signature taster menu (caviar, truffles, foie gras) at the stylish SKY lounge and Atmosphere restaurant at level 148, manned by top chef Jerome Lagarde.

But there’s no reason you can’t get higher! Feel the adrenaline rush as you skydive from 13,000 ft over Palm Jumeirah or get on a hot air balloon, chopper, gyrocoptor or a Sea Wings seaplane for an aerial tour. Dubai is the place for bad boys to have a good time, with dune-bashing, belly-dancing and adventures like Ski Dubai (Middle East’s first indoor ski resort) and iFLY Dubai (indoor sky diving and wind tunnel experience).

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Easy rentals make it easy to zip around in your dream luxe car or set sail on the Persian Gulf in a luxurious yacht with Jacuzzi, barbeques and champagne. Pimp it up with model hostesses, resident DJ and bouncers. And if you don’t mind getting wet, strap on a hydrojet equipment and get set for shred sleds, jet packs and jet blades.

Stay in style at Palm Jumeirah at Anantara Resorts as you go party-hopping at Sanctuary in Atlantis nearby, Zero Gravity, White Dubai, Trilogy, Rattlesnake, Ku-Bu, Cyclone or Ibiza club Blue Marlin, a weekend-only beach bar. With Dubai’s diverse expat mix, it’s like attending the UN’s sorority bash.

Jet Airways flies to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

For more info, www.visitdubai.com

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Get lucky in Hong Kong
For King Kong fun, head straight to Hong Kong. Terrific street food, night markets, rooftop bars, a vibrant ‘scene’ and the world’s largest permanent light and sound show Symphony of Lights; what’s not to like? The central party district of Lan Kwai Fong, Wan Chai and SoHo buzz with bars and clubs like Magnum, Volar, Play, Dragon-i, Ce La Vi, the world’s highest bar Ozone at Ritz Carlton and Aqua Spirit rooftop bar overlooking Victoria Harbour.

To up the ante, take the hour-long ferry to Macau, a mecca for boys who like to party hard. Like HK, a Special Administrative Region (SAR), the Portuguese presence in Macau over four centuries gives it an exotic appeal – from its food, culture to architecture. Having the world’s highest population density (20,497 people per sq km), two islands south of the mainland Coloane and Taipa were joined in a massive land reclamation project to form the Co-tai Strip, a 5.2 sq km gambling haven.

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In 2007, it turned the tables on Las Vegas as the world leader in gambling revenue. Most of the 30 million visitors to Macau are drawn by 24-hour gambling at the 33 casinos and integrated resorts – Venetian Resort, City of Dreams, Sands Cotai, Galaxy Macau Resort and Wynn Palace, which opened this year. Event planners like Ludih can help you organize the ultimate stag bash with stretch limos, VIP access at clubs and private parties in luxury hotel suites.

Jet Airways flies to Hong Kong

For more info, visit www.macaotourism.gov.mo

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Go beer guzzling in Germany
Beer by the tankards or ‘ein mass’ (one measure in a large mug), pigging out on red meat (sausages to steaks) and busty bier mädchen (beer maidens) dressed in dirndls (Alpine peasant costume) and tight-fitting bodices that make Hooters seem like a church choir; Germany is custom-built for a boys’ week out. Beer Bike Tours combine two of the best German specialties – beer and engineering – plonk with your pals on stools around a small bar and quaff beer while pedaling your beermobile. It’s a good way to burn off what you’ll put on.

Drive from north to south Germany on the Deutsch Fachwerke Strasse (Half-Timbered House Road), checking out local brews at the 1200 breweries between Bremen and Munich. Pop in at Munich’s famous beer hall Hofbräuhaus and the Bier & Oktoberfest Museum. Or head straight to Berlin, legendary for its hedonistic club scene and endless party hours. There’s hardly a block in Berlin without a bar though the top spots are in the hipster district of Kreuzberg.

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Check out Berlin’s oldest biergarten Prater or rent a raft and float down the Spree River. Go dancing at the open-air Club der Visionaire off the Spree or Matrix in an abandoned train station – almost every club in Berlin is built in an abandoned something! Split up into smaller groups to get into clubs like Sysiphos or the infamous techno haven Berghain.

The German love for kink is apparent in strip clubs like Golden Dolls or CP Club and adult entertainment venues like Artimis and Kit Kat Club. For a mad time, visit during the 16-day long Oktoberfest (mid-September to first Sunday in October)! Don’t forget to take home a stein (no, not a stain but a stoneware mug) as a memento.

Jet Airways flies to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from where its codeshare partners Etihad and KLM have several connections to Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin.

For more info, visit www.germany.travel

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Rum tasting in Mauritius
If you were considering Mauritius for your destination wedding or honeymoon, your bachelor party might be a good way to scope it out. Sensuous Sega dancers and fire-eaters by the beach, endless rum tasting sessions at rhumeries like Chateau de Labourdonnais, Chamarel, L’Aventure du Sucre and Saint Aubin and riding out to reefs for diving or snorkeling with the boys; Mauritius is not your average lazy tropical paradise.

There’s a lot for the adventure enthusiast – SeaKart, UnderSea Walk, Sub Scooter and Submarine tours with Blue Safari (the only sub operation in the Indian Ocean), the world’s third longest zipline and Quad Biking at La Vallée des Couleurs and Casela Nature Park. And if you’re into golf, there are over a dozen world class courses.

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With all the action packed in a relatively small island nation (65km long, 45km wide) and plush beachside resorts like Shanti Maurice, Sofitel Imperial and Radisson Blu Azuri, no adventure is far away. Dine on the best of French, Caribbean and Creole cuisine and wash it down with rum macerated with tropical fruits and spices.

Jet Airways flies twice a week from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to Mauritius

For more info, visit www.tourism-mauritius.mu

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Bar hopping in Dublin
Few cities have the pulse and vibe of Dublin where the pub, the poet and the pint are seemingly inseparable. The Irish are a friendly lot and it’s easy to strike up a conversation, make new friends and party like a local. Start your pilgrimage with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse and their St James Gate Brewery where they teach you everything from how to pour the perfect pint o’ Guinness and how to drink one!

For a traditional Dublin pub experience with a live band, Irish music and food, The Merry Ploughboy Irish music pub is a must do. Wowing audiences since 1989, they even have a pick-up and drop facility from town. Go on a Dublin Literary Pub Crawl with quirky book-themed tours in the footsteps of famous authors through Dublin’s cobbled streets. Professional actors double up as guides performing from the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

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Sounds too dense? Hit the Temple Bar area to wet your whistle at Kitty O’Shea’s, The Hole in the Wall and The Brazen Head, Ireland’s oldest pub that opened in 1198. Not into beer? Take the scenic Giant’s Causeway Coastal route and head for an Irish whiskey experience at The Old Jameson Distillery (reopening after a makeover in March 2017).

Jet Airways flies to London, from where you can fly to Dublin or Belfast.

For more info, visit www.ireland.com

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Go Down Under in style in Australia
If you’re all set to change your FB status from Single to Married (or It’s Complicated), go down under in style by celebrating Down Under. Base yourself in Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) and you’re just a hop, skip and jump from all the entertainment – bars, restaurants, gentleman’s clubs and a variety of shows. Plus, in CBD, the trams are free!

Stay at Citadines on Bourke Street or check into luxe tents at St. Jerome’s with scenic views and bespoke brewery tours run by the Temple Brewing Co. For whiskey tastings, there’s The Humble Tumbler, Bar 1806 and Whisky & Alement. Australia is the perfect place for XXXX fun and we don’t mean Castlemaine!

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Take the fun out to sea with a stripper cruise or have a poker party with topless barmaids and nude waitresses. Drive out of town with your mates to Philip Island for surfing and to watch penguins, seals and wallabies in the wild. The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit which hosts the Moto GP in October also has a 720m go-karting track. Continue the party on the Great Ocean Road past the Twelve Apostles to Sydney if you have more time… and stamina!

Jet Airways flies to Singapore, from where its codeshare partner Qantas flies to Melbourne and Sydney

For more info, www.visitmelbourne.com

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Island hopping in Indonesia
Imagine this. The moment you land in Bali, you and your Wolf Pack is whisked from the airport to your private pool villa in Semenyak where party girls welcome you with chilled Bintangs. Your pool party has its own DJ, with VIP access to top clubs at night and cruising on a luxury yacht with your bevy of beauties. Yes, in Bali, everything is possible.

If you don’t want to depend on an event planner, DIY, but don’t DUI. Choose a regular hotel in the main tourist hub of Kuta so you’re never far from action. Catch the sunset at beach shacks like Ku De Ta, Potato Head, Cocoon or Mozaic, then go late night clubbing at Sky Garden in Legian. The next day, recover with Balinese massages and foot reflexology. In the posher precinct Semenyak, you can have your own pool villa with party spots like Bounty, Mirror and Koh close by.

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Fly out to Labuan Bajo in Flores, where you can go diving and deep sea fishing or head out on a boat trip to Komodo Island to watch giant reptiles. With getaways like Sulawesi, Lombok and nearly 18,000 islands (of which 8844 are named and 922 permanently inhabited), you are indeed spoilt for choice.

Jet Airways flies to Bangkok and Singapore, from where its codeshare partner Garuda Indonesia flies to Bali

For more info, visit www.indonesia.travel

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Glamping in Oman
Oman may not seem like the most obvious choice for a bachelor party, but if you’re looking for good clean fun, the Desert Nation has quite a few surprises. Smoke sheeshas on the sands like a Bedouin, swim in wadis with barbecue parties at Wadi Bani Khalid, trek in the Al Hajar mountains or go dune bashing, quad biking and sandboarding with your buddies at Sharqiya Sands.

But perish the thoughts of basic ‘Abdullah and the Camel’ sort of tents, Desert Nights Camp will spoil you silly with glamping (glamour-camping). Tents fit for sultans dressed up with plush rugs and drapes, the nomadic strains of the darbouka (stringed instrument) and oud (percussion) and the tantalizing aroma of barbecued meat, Oman is as sensory as its aromatic frankincense. Fly from Muscat to Khasab for 4X4 drives across rugged terrain and luxury dhow cruises with dolphin spotting and snorkeling at Telegraph Island.

Jet Airways flies to Muscat

For more info, visit www.omantourism.gov.om

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Explore the coffee shops of Amsterdam
Amsterdam has all the ingredients to threaten your marriage, so go at your own peril. A lot of the stuff illegal elsewhere is legit here. Much as the city likes to shrug the tag, over half a million tourists are drawn by visions of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Amsterdam’s legendary coffee shops, currently trimmed down to 220, come with elaborate menus offering everything from Moroccan Ice to Malana Cream for a Cheech & Chong stoner holiday.

There’s no better example of Amsterdam’s drug tolerance than Bulldog Leidseplein, formerly a police station, decorated with criminal artifacts! Scour the top forty listed in the local Mellow Pages: A Smoker’s Guide to Amsterdam and pop by at the award-winning Green House, The Grasshopper or Barney’s for a hit. The Cannabis Cup in November used to be a great time to visit until the recent clampdown. Another mandatory pitstop is Amsterdam’s red light district De Wallen, where you’ll learn a new meaning to the term ‘window shopping’. For those racked by guilt, look out for the “Pimp Free Zone” sticker.

Jet Airways flies to Amsterdam

For more info, visit www.holland.com

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Get unreal in Montreal

With its trendy bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, every sort of club, Montreal is not called Sin City of the North for nothing. Get party girls to go clubbing with you, visit lap dance bars, try naked sushi or get your freak on at Kamasutra Club and Club Supersexe. St Laurent is a buzzing entertainment quarter while Crescent Street has great bars like Mad Hatter and Churchill’s, which has daily happy hours.

Montreal has a certain French flair and many time their bachelor parties in time for the cold winter sports season (thus justifying the need for warmth) or events like the jazz festival. Looking for an all-expense paid pre-arranged tour? Connect with www.connectedmontreal.com

Jet Airways flies to London Heathrow from where its codeshare partner Air Canada flies to Montreal, Toronto and other destinations

For more info, visit www.canada.travel

Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This is the unabridged version of the article that appeared in the October 2016 issue of JetWings International magazine.

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Hong Kong: Where food is a celebration

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With 11,000 restaurants and 3.5 million fish balls consumed each day, Hong Kong takes eating very seriously. ANURAG MALLICK goes on a culinary tour from Kowloon to Lam Tsuen. 

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Hong Kong takes its tag of ‘Asia’s World City’ and ‘Gourmet Paradise’ quite seriously. The annual 4-day epicurean fest ‘Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival’ (31 Oct–3 Nov) kicks off a month of culinary extravaganzas. This year, the event moved to the New Central Harbourfront with an all-new Tasting Room where visitors enjoyed wine pairing dinners, gourmet classes, talks by master chefs, fine wines and delicacies of 18 countries at 280 food booths. Hong Kong’s top hotels and restaurants rolled out the red carpet for a whole month with great offers as they stirred up award-winning, signature dishes. Around 70 food booths featured barbecued specialties, appetizers and sweet treats. Laze around listening to jazz bands as you watch the sun go down Victoria Harbour.

Mainly clustered around Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, SoHo and Kowloon, Hong Kong’s 11,000 restaurants bring together diverse styles – from traditional Cantonese dishes to Beijing duck, oriental flavours from Indo-China to colonial style cooking and even the odd Indian restaurant. But the most authentic experience is the city’s street food as carts and kiosks dish out snake soup, fishballs, offal, octopus, dim sums, noodles, stir fries and food on the go. A recent survey revealed that people in Hong Kong eat almost 3.57 million fish balls every day! For a sit down meal, try any old-style yum cha (tea-house), siu mei (barbecue restaurant) or cha chan teng (fast food joints) that are a unique Hong Kong fusion of Chinese and Western diners.

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While food icons like Lung Mun in Kowloon and Tse Kee Fish balls in Aberdeen have downed their shutters, sample a set menu at any dim sum restaurant. The elaborate meal starts off with an appetizer, often Drunken Chicken braised in red wine and garnished with dried plums, followed by Abalone, Prawn tempura with glass noodles, Hong Kong style lobster with sautéed garlic, Garoupa (fish) served in two-style sauce, pak choy stir fry and jellies in various flavours for dessert. Chinese tea, known to cut fat, forms an important part of the dining ritual in Hong Kong.

It is common etiquette to pour tea for others before filling one’s own cup. Tea drinkers tap the table with two fingers to express gratitude to the person filling their cups. This practice, called ‘finger kowtowing’, is linked to Qianlong, an 18th century Chinese emperor of the Qing dynasty who often travelled through his dominions incognito. According to local legend, once on a visit to South China, he went into a teahouse with his men. To maintain his anonymity, he took his turn to pour tea as a commoner normally would. His companions wanted to bow down for this great honour, but kowtowing would reveal his true identity. So one of them tapped three fingers on the table, one finger representing their bowed head and the other two representing their prostrate arms. The emperor understood and ever since, the hand gesture has literally been handed down over generations.

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While the consumption of food can be a very personal experience for some, in Hong Kong there’s a fair deal of community eating. Groups often order a hot pot – a big pot of soup boiled on a stove built into the table with seafood, meats, vegetables and other ingredients. Diners serve themselves at the table, dipping their portions in black sesame sauce, balsamic vinegar and an assortment of dipping sauces. On the other hand, clay pots are rice-based with juicy meats and fresh vegetables added to the pot. This is covered and slow-cooked over a coal fire, allowing the rice to remain moist in the centre and crisp on the edges.

Community feasts take on a new dimension at walled villages like Lam Tsuen in the New Territories. For poon choi or ‘big bowl feast’, ingredients are layered in a large bowl and eaten communally. It could include pork, beef, lamb, abalone, chicken, duck, shrimp, crab, various mushrooms, Chinese radish, broccoli and tofu in nine to 12 layers – enough to feed a group of ten. The contents are not mixed but eaten layer by layer.

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Legend has it that the dish was invented when Mongol hordes invaded the empire forcing an emperor of the Southern Song dynasty (1127 -1279) to seek refuge in the New Territories. Local villagers collected all their food in large troughs and presented it to the emperor. Unique to Hong Kong, poon choi is part of the city’s intangible cultural heritage.

But the ultimate dish at village feasts is suckling pig or siu yuk (roast pork) where a whole pig weighing up to 20 kg is cooked in a charcoal oven until the skin becomes crispy leaving the meat tender. Women chop it with cleavers and serve it with a piquant mustard dip and pickled chillies. However all celebrations pale in comparison to the Chinese New Year (Jan-Feb) when families dine together on new year’s eve to remember the year gone by and wish for greater success in future.

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Each dish in this sumptuous banquet symbolizes a particular wish for the New Year – wealth, fertility or good luck. Fish figures prominently on the menu, as the Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for abundance. The abalone or bao yu means surplus while the sea cucumber or hoi sam has a similar pronunciation that denotes happiness.

The kumquat or miniature orange, a gold-coloured fruit has a name that sounds like the Chinese word for gold. The clash of cymbals drives away evil spirits as lion dancers reach out to grab chai-ching, a bunch of lettuce leaves hung from a height. The strange tradition derives from the fact that the Chinese words for lettuce sound like growth and wealth.

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Hotels like The InterContinental and Regal Kowloon lay out elaborate feasts featuring ‘Braised Pig’s Tongue with Dried Oyster’, ‘Sea Moss or Braised Abalone with Sea Cucumber in Oyster Sauce’ and ‘Fried rice with shredded chicken and shrimp in tomato & cream sauce’. Eating unusual combination dishes is integral to the celebrations, as they rhyme with positive attributes like wealth, happiness and prosperity. In Hong Kong, food is more than just a meal, it is celebration, it is faith…

Authors: Anurag Mallick. This article appeared on 21 December 2013 in the Sunday magazine of The Hindu.  

Bathed in Revelry: Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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Flower markets, special cuisine, night parades, betting at the races, hurling oranges at the Wishing Trees of Lam Tsuen and fireworks over Victoria Harbour, ANURAG MALLICK lives up the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

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When Coca-Cola was about to enter China in 1928, excited Chinese shopkeepers jumped the gun and put up their own signs in Mandarin with little regard to meaning. Written Chinese employs 40,000 different characters and the phrase ‘ko ka ko la’ phonetically translated to ‘bite the wax tadpole’, ‘female horse fastened with wax’, ‘wax flattened mare’ and other nonsensical variations. Meanwhile, after ongoing research, Coca-Cola officially launched with ‘ke ko ke lê’, a more positive transliteration that denoted ‘happiness in the mouth’.

Fantastic as it seems, one might find this piece of marketing folklore perplexing and perhaps unrelated to the Chinese New Year celebrations. But for someone who has just returned after the festivities in Hong Kong, one realizes the importance of symbolism and rhyme in the life of the Chinese. Come new year, every home, hotel, office and bank is decorated with peach blossoms and pots of kumquat, a miniature orange that looks and sounds like gold (kum in Chinese). Eating unusual combination dishes like Braised Dried Oyster and Pig’s Tongue with Sea Moss or Braised Abalone with Sea Cucumber in Oyster Sauce is integral to the celebrations, as they rhyme with positive attributes like wealth, happiness and abundance.

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Contrarily, the number ‘four’ is considered inauspicious because the Chinese word for it sounds similar to ‘death’. Which is why Nokia has no cell phone series beginning with 4, Canon’s PowerShot series jumps from G3 to G5 and most high-rises in Hong Kong skip all floor numbers with 4. ‘Eight on the other hand is extremely lucky and people pay huge sums for favorable license plates or telephone numbers’, my guide Koko elaborated, as we drove out of the swanky Regal Kowloon Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Preparations had begun weeks in advance with endless rounds of spring-cleaning and shopping. Those abroad returned to their families while flower farms in the countryside of New Territories timed their blooms to coincide with the season. A few days before the Chinese New Year, parks, playgrounds and basketball courts transformed into makeshift open-air marts. We were headed for the largest of the 14 flower markets in Hong Kong – Victoria Park at Causeway Bay. Under the stern gaze of Queen Victoria’s statue, excited crowds picked their favourite flowers. Each had its own symbolism. Narcissi, peonies and pussy-willow denoted good luck and prosperity; peach blossoms sizzled up romance while unblemished tangerine plants ensured long-lasting relationships.

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After hours of preparation, on New Year’s Eve, the entire family sat down for a sumptuous feast, which marked a joyous end to the year gone by. After dinner, it was customary to gift lai see or red envelopes gold-stamped with good-luck motifs containing crisp, mint-fresh banknotes. Elders gave lai see to the young, the married to the single and bosses to their employees. To fulfill this surge in demand, banks timed the release of their new notes during this period. Greetings of ‘Kung hei fat choi’ (Wishing you success and prosperity) echoed through the air while hotel lobbies, town squares and temples came alive with acrobatic lion dance performances. The rhythmic beating of drums, the clash of cymbals and the sound of the gong are believed to frighten away evil spirits. As the lion leapt into the air to grab chai-ching (lettuce bunch) suspended from a street-side balcony, people applauded the good omen. The Chinese words for lettuce sound like growth and wealth!

We walked down the Avenue of Stars, past the statue of Bruce Lee, dodging the pavement with hand impressions of movie stalwarts like Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Jet Li, John Woo and Wong Kar Wai. The Cultural Centre was abuzz with preparations for the Night Parade, ranked by Lonely Planet’s Blue List among the world’s Top 10 New Year Celebrations and by Travel + Leisure as one of the six great Chinese New Year parties in the world. We marveled at the colourful floats lined up against the old clock tower, the only remnant of the original Kowloon Station. Suddenly, a collective gasp made us turn and we watched a city of skyscrapers morph into the world’s largest outdoor nightclub. Orchestrated lasers animated nearly 40 harbour-front buildings in a jaw-dropping Symphony of Lights. Koko whispered, ‘Wait till you see the fireworks day after.’ After an elaborate seafood meal at the iconic Lung Mun Restaurant, we retired with stars in our eyes.

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The next day we took the Big Bus Tour, a leisurely way to explore the city. Like rubberneck tourists, we gawked at the lofty skyscrapers from the open-roof bus, until we reached the Lower Terminus of the Peak Tram station. The historic 120-year-old tramway chugged up a 45-degree incline before depositing us at the Peak Tower, an architectural marvel that bustled with shops, eateries, Madame Tussauds and a viewpoint called Sky Terrace. We got back just in time for the Night Parade, which came alive with Samba dancers, American cheerleaders, Korean percussionists, Peruvian performers, Taiwanese acrobats and Thai artistes, as decorated floats and performers paraded through the streets. The Hong Kong Tourism Board took its tag ‘World City, World Party’ quite seriously. But under all the glitz, there was a strong undercurrent of tradition.

People flocked to various shrines to pray for good fortune. The first ones to light incense at Kowloon’s Wong Tai Sin Temple received protection for the entire year. At the Man Mo Temple in Central, where giant incense coils hung overhead, people prayed for intelligence and strength. At Lam Tsuen, people scribbled prayers, tied it to oranges and hurled it at a sacred Wishing Tree. It is believed that if the orange got stuck leaving the paper dangling below, the wish would come true. On the second day of the Chinese New Year, people spun the Wheel of Fortune at Che Kung Temple to dispel bad luck and placed bets at the Sha Tin Racecourse as winning money augured well for the year.

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Every single act was nuanced with meaning. Incense removed impurities in the air; miniature windmills and pennants acted as agents of change while crackers warded off evil spirits. Though there was an embargo on fireworks during New Year, a public pyrotechnic display over Victoria Harbour more than made up for it. Long after the last firework had died out and a pall of smoke hung in the air, the residual images that ushered in the Year of the Rabbit flashed past our eyes. It seemed, like Alice, we had fallen down a rabbit hole and emerged in an enchanted Wonderland called Hong Kong.

Box: Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac follows a 12-part cycle divided into years, not months; each related to an animal and its attributes. When the sun enters the sign of Aquarius, the first day of the first moon marks the lunar New Year, the most important Chinese festival (usually between 21st Jan-19th Feb).

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Fact File

Getting there: 

Hong Kong’s homegrown airline Cathay Pacific operates daily flights from Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi. The approx distance of 4000 km is covered in 5 hours. Hong Kong is 2.5 hours ahead of IST.

Where to Stay:

An important tourist and entertainment hub, Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon has the highest concentration of hotels in Hong Kong. The Regal Kowloon and Kowloon Shangri-La (Mody Road), The Peninsula (Salisbury Road) and The Kowloon Hotel (Nathan Road) rank among the best.

When to Go:

Culminating in the Lantern Festival (Feb 17), the Chinese New Year marks the onset of the spring season with traditional celebrations, sporting events, art shows and festivals in the months to come, making Hong Kong a great place to visit.

For more information, contact:

Hong Kong Tourism Board
www.discoverhongkong.com

Author: Anurag Mallick. This article appeared on 28 February, 2011 in Deccan Herald (Sunday).