Get us in your inbox

Arthur Tam

Arthur Tam

Articles (27)

Where to go rock climbing in Hong Kong

Where to go rock climbing in Hong Kong

As the heat and torrential rains of summer subside and the cooler, drier autumn weather kicks in, rock climbers across the city are preparing to get back out on to our finest crags and rock faces. The sheer thrill, skill and strategy needed to climb outdoors are driving the sport’s popularity sky-high in Hong Kong and there’s an ever-burgeoning and friendly rock climbing community to be found scaling the city’s boulders and cliffs every weekend. So, whether you’ve climbed indoors before and are looking to make the transition to the great outdoors, or if you’re a seasoned climber looking for new spots to traverse, check out our list of the best climbing locations across the city.

Interview: Ellen Loo (2013)

Interview: Ellen Loo (2013)

Trading in their skirts for sexual freedom and a blunt expression, female rockers have long been paving the way for young women to break convention. It’s never been an easy road, in the context of any culture – but in Hong Kong, compounded by the city’s ballad-driven pop music scene, where most female artists sport the dolled-up ‘goody two-shoes’ look, there hasn’t seemed to be much room for a guitar-wielding rock chick – until now.Determined and focused, Ellen Loo is making her mark at a crucial period when Hong Kong is in desperate need for a fresh voice with raw talent to stay relevant on Asia’s music radar. The 27-year-old rockstress Loo first emerged as a bright-eyed teen more than a decade ago as one half of folky electronic duo, at17, with Eman Lam. Back then, at the turn of the millennium, at17 reinvented what it meant to be a female artist in Hong Kong with their down-to-earth appearance and ‘folktronic’ music that aimed to ease the woes of teenage angst.Now, three years after embarking on her solo career, Loo is still looking to break down barriers, and has done just that with her latest album, You’re Hiding Quietly, which garnered two nominations in the categories of Best Female Singer and Best Composer at Taiwan’s recent Golden Melody Awards – a huge milestone. Only a handful of Hong Kong artists have ever been nominated for the prestigious awards and despite not winning, netizens continue to cheer on Loo and have proclaimed her to be Hong Kong’s only true ‘rock g

Interview: Dr Small Luk talks gender struggles and the dangers of good intentions

Interview: Dr Small Luk talks gender struggles and the dangers of good intentions

With the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia adopting an I, for intersex, Arthur Tam talks to Dr Small Luk about her struggles growing up as an intersex individual and the dangers of good intentionsIf you’ve ever wondered what the ‘I’ stands for in LGBTI, even Time Out staff were initially bewildered once the letter was added to this section’s name last year. It stands for intersex – ‘a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male,’ according to the Intersex Society of North America. Basically, Intersex is its own category of gender. It’s a rare occurrence, but not as rare you might think. Globally, approximately 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 2,000 children are born with noticeably atypical sexual traits. There are even more cases when you account for subtler sexual anatomical variations. Just calling someone intersex can have a variety of different meanings. There are 17 different known intersex conditions that are either a result of an anomaly on the chromosomal level or physical anomalies where outer sexual characteristics and genitalia are ambiguous. It’s not easy to pinpoint, which can be unconformable for folks that are hell-bent on defining gender, but in reality there’s more than just male and female. The sex spectrum is very much like the varying hues of the colour spectrum. This year, Hong Kong is taking another progressive step a

Interview: Adrien Brody

Interview: Adrien Brody

When you win the Oscar for best actor at an unprecedented 29 years of age it’s tempting to play it safe, to cherry pick your roles and guard your cinematic kudos. But Adrien Brody has never been afraid to task risks. He’s as comfortable working alongside industry heavyweights like Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Wes Anderson as he is pretending to battle King Kong and alien predators. He’s even spent seven years making a documentary (Stone Barn Castle) focusing on the unfashionable subject of his toil renovating a partially burned mansion in upstate New York. Always looking ahead to his next challenge, the young Oscar and César Award-winner has set his sights on China’s burgeoning film industry.Earlier this year, Brody appeared on screen opposite Jackie Chan, as a corrupt Roman general hell-bent on staking a claim to the riches of the Silk Road in Dragon Blade. This military role won him best supporting actor at the Huading Awards (what the Hollywood Reporter calls ‘China’s  version of the Oscars’). On top of that, Brody has recently launched his own production house, Fabel House, which aims to produce films that are palatable for Chinese audiences. The company has a huge $50 million backing from Chinese and Nigerian investors. One of the partners for Fabel House is the Beijing-based production company Sparkle Roll Cultural Media, which is half owned by one of Brody’s newest chums, Chan.The 42-year-old doesn’t want to be restricted to acting anymore. He wants to be an entrepr

A history of women in Hong Kong martial arts cinema

A history of women in Hong Kong martial arts cinema

No one would dispute that Hong Kong, starting with the rise of Shaw Brothers, has dominated martial arts cinema for much of the last 50 years. Local film makers laid the foundation for many of the greatest action films ever made, giving rise to revered international action heroes like Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan and, of course, the greatest of the greatest, the dragon himself, Bruce Lee.Yes, these are the men that we adore to this day, but we forget that to their yang there has always been a strong yin. The great women of Hong Kong martial arts cinema are often overlooked and overshadowed by their male counterparts. It’s unfair and ludicrous since much of the genre was shaped by female fighters like Cheng Pei-pei, Kara Hui, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Mao, Cynthia Rothrock and Yuen Qiu. In the 50s and 60s, female lead roles in wuxia and kung fu films were just as prevalent as male roles and the ladies threw it down with as much strength, speed and tenacity as the men did, if not more.These day it’s all about fighting to level the playing field and in the light of increasing girl power, what better way to celebrate than to acknowledge women in an industry that has been so essential to the popularity of Hong Kong pop culture. Snapped tendons, bruised eyes and broken bones – yup, they went through it all and more. It’s time we all recognise.

Interview: Juju Chan

Interview: Juju Chan

These days it seems like there’s a shortage of young blood to carry on the legacy of the female martial artists of yore. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Juju Chan (陳鈺芸) is one the brightest prospects that might just be up for the task "It’s time to revive Hong Kong martial arts films, especially with girls,” says martial arts champion and actress Juju Chan. Dubbed the ‘female Bruce Lee’, Chan seems destined to be the next big female action star, having just starred in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2 alongside Michelle Yeoh and Donnie Yen. Her martial arts career began with judo when she was just a spritely 10-year-old. From there, she picked up hung kuen, taekwondo, Wing Chun and Thai kickboxing. Chan is no one trick pony. In 2013 she became a champion in the female black belt pattern category in the China Open Championship, a victory she followed up by winning the World Muay Thai Council’s 2014 46kg Thai boxing championship. This girl has got some serious skills and it doesn’t stop there. She’s not just beauty and brawn, she’s also quite the academic having received a computer science degree from the University of San Francisco and also a master’s degree in film and TV from NYU.  “My parents really didn’t want me to go into entertainment,” says Chan. “But I want to explore different things before it’s too late in case I have regrets 10 years later.” Ultimately, she wants to be known for having real fighting skills, not just as someone that can follow action cho

DIY fashion stores in Sham Shui Po

DIY fashion stores in Sham Shui Po

Whether you’re new to the city or a veteran Hongkonger, the gritty yet colourful and culturally rich area of Sham Shui Po can be an intimidating area to navigate. Along with its multifarious local eateries, the Golden Computer Arcade and the Dragon Centre, Sham Shui Po is popularly known for its fashion district just off from the MTR A2 exit. Here you find street after street of shops selling beads, trim, buttons, leather, wool, pearls and tools – pretty much anything you need if you want to start making your own outfits. It’s a haven for fashion designers, crafts people and DIY fanatics. But if it’s your first time stepping foot in the area, it can be a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate through the clutter we’ve picked out a few user-friendly hotspots selling some of the best materials in the city. Follow our map so you don’t get lost. Bear in mind that most of the stores in this area are closed on the weekends, so the best time to come is from 11am-7pm on weekdays.

Hong Kong profile: King Chiu and Dominic Ho – the 'nam mo' male models

Hong Kong profile: King Chiu and Dominic Ho – the 'nam mo' male models

These juicy male models with muscles, pecs and abs are on the rise – and they’re coming ‘in’ at a time when the busty figure of the female ‘lang mo’ is on its way ‘out’. And King Chiu (趙勁皓) and Dominic Ho (何浩文) are two of the ripped hot ‘nam mo’, who have launched the amazing phenomenon.  It all started when a mysterious Mainlander, dubbed Boss Lau, forked out a whopping $2,486,400 at the Book Fair on the entire initial stock of semi-nude photo books from three fairly new nam mo studs: Chiu, Ho and Gym Gu. A total of 24,000 books were snapped up by the buyer. The story hit the headlines and the three beefcakes’ names were forever etched in nam mo history – particularly as the fair has traditionally seen the lang mo and her photo books in the spotlight, like Chrissy Chau and her iconic tome, Kissy Chrissie.  Chiu and Ho say they didn’t see it coming – but they were delighted with the attention. “I was quite shocked and amazed,” says 25-year-old Chiu, whose photo book is King of V-Line (because, yes, he has an insane V-Line). “I was worried it wouldn’t sell because people usually appreciate female models more. There’s just a bigger market for female sexuality in Hong Kong. But these days I see a change. Ever since A&F came and actors like Eddie Peng and Nick Cheung started showing off their bodies, people are beginning to appreciate male sexuality as well.” Ho, whose photo book is called Dominic’s Kandy Krush, agrees. “I had a fan who came up to me who bought 20 of my books,” s

Director Eric Khoo and actress Josie Ho on their erotic drama 'In the Room'

Director Eric Khoo and actress Josie Ho on their erotic drama 'In the Room'

Pussy power… It means a lot to me,” says actress Josie Ho, who’s starring in director Eric Khoo’s latest, sexually charged film, In the Room. The film spans several decades and is broken down into six steamy short stories with two things in a common – sex and Room 27 at the Hotel Singapura (based on the historic 7th Storey Hotel demolished in 2008). “If hotel walls could speak, I’m sure they would have a lot to say,’ says Khoo. “I was always fascinated with this idea.” The stories are appropriately titled – Rubber, Pussy, Listen, Change, Search and First Time – and reflect a diverse set of cultures, romances and experiences. “It makes sense, doesn’t it,” says director Khoo. “An international hotel would cater to an international and diverse clientele. This is what I had in mind from the beginning because I thought it would be boring if the stories were only about Singaporeans.” Instead, the film features with Thai, Korean, Malay, Singaporean, English and Japanese characters. It’s a cultural and chronological mishmash with intense, rollercoaster like emotional transitions. There’s passion, eroticism, darkness, humour, sorrow, lust, tenderness, innocence, betrayal and of course, love. “We shot the movie in 10 days and I felt like we were in a time capsule,” says Khoo. The unfortunate side effect is that as a whole, the film comes off a bit uneven. Some stories are much better and fleshed out than others, which had us wishing there were just three stories instead of six. The fi

Sex and meth: Why 'chem-fun' is rife among the gay male community in HK

Sex and meth: Why 'chem-fun' is rife among the gay male community in HK

‘Crystal meth is for pure sex’, says Paul Schulte, a local drug counsellor and author of the recent book, Paths to Recovery for Gay and Bisexual Drug Addicts: Healing Weary Hearts. “Everything looks good when you’re on meth and you look good to someone on it.” Sex and drugs may have gone hand in hand since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, but there isn’t much that’s sexy or glamorous about meth. In fact, rather than the perceived glitz associated with certain narcotics, the common stereotype of a meth addict is someone unkempt, gaunt and covered in sores. But that hasn’t stopped it being associated with sex. And it’s disproportionately used during sex by gay men, often during group sessions known as slamming parties. The act of sex on meth, whether in a pair or a group, is known as ‘chem fun’ – chemical fun. “Straight men and woman obviously take meth as well for sex, but I do believe gay men take it to another level,’’ says Dr Sky Lau, who spent three years researching his 2014 PhD thesis Experiencing Risky Pleasure: The Exploration of ‘Chem Fun’ in the Hong Kong Gay Community. “I would say that gay men tend to take meth in groups more than straight individuals.” Indeed, a glance though profiles on Grindr and Jack’d (gay social apps) these days reveals it’s not uncommon to see guys writing that they want ‘chem fun’ or ‘high fun’, or otherwise simply indicating it with a pill emoticon. “I would say that 70 percent of the guys on Grindr are looking for chem fun,” says D, a recoveri

Interview: the directors of Hong Kong dystopia ‘Ten Years’

Interview: the directors of Hong Kong dystopia ‘Ten Years’

Powerful, poignant, relevant and brave are just a few humble words that have been used to describe Hong Kong’s smash-hit socio-political satire, Ten Years. This exceptional film that hit city cinemas just before Christmas actually beat Star Wars: The Force Awakens in box office sales at the Broadway Cinematheque and has resonated with audiences so much, some are already calling it a ‘classic’. What it actually is, is a dark political satire that’s set in our city in 2025 and is broken down into five different short stories by five emerging directors. It’s nightmarish, it’s frightening and it’s a must-see for Hongkongers.Beating out Star Wars is huge. And it’s ironic as both films surround the idea of a looming dark force threatening to take over in the future. In Ten Years’ case, however, the terror is prevalent because it could, just maybe, become a reality as our city’s landscape is politically and socially changed over the next decade. The quintet of directorial maestros — Ng Ka-leung, Chow Kwun-wai, Kwok Zune, Jevons Au Man-kit and Wong Fei-pang — depict a dystopian city where the worst of our fears have been realised. The Cantonese culture and language are dying out. China’s Communist Party’s influence is at its peak. A National Security Law is about to pass. ‘Youth guards’ are on patrol to keep people in check. In an act of civil disobedience, citizens resort to self-immolation.We meet with the ve directors at Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei to discuss the major iss

Listings and reviews (16)

Ciao Chow – Italian Cafeteria

Ciao Chow – Italian Cafeteria

3 out of 5 stars

Another new restaurant has opened up in California Tower and, like the rest, it’s pricy and nothing to rave about. However, despite the lack of razzle-dazzle, Ciao Chow nevertheless serves up some tasty and comprehensive Italian standards in a massive pizza and pasta joint at LKF street level. Now isn’t that exactly what pre and post-partiers need to soak up all that liquor? This space is a welcoming one, with open entrances that allow onlookers to gaze into the vast, modern dining room, which is decorated with industrial fixtures, marble tables and a well-stocked bar. The high ceilings really open up the restaurant and create an amiable social atmosphere. Again – nothing to rave about, but this spot works well for the LKF crowds. We start our dinner with a few light appetisers – a timid serving of Tuscan salami ($38) and a delectable fresh kale salad with crumbles ($118). The salami is strong, rich and tasty but, sadly, you only get a pathetic amount of thin slices on your plate, which is disappointing. The kale salad, however, is much better. It’s refreshing, full of fresh leafy bite and features a delicious savoury and tangy dressing. We wish the kale salad at spots like Mana or Nood Food tasted as good as this.  Next up are the carbs. We order the spaghetti vongole ($168). There’s nothing new here, though. The noodles may be cooked to al dente perfection and the sauce may be exquisitely rich, but the clams could be better in both quality and juiciness. And our second carb

Comptoir

Comptoir

3 out of 5 stars

Comptoir is a French tapas and wine bar that offers a fun environment conducive to socialising with a selection of affordable French fine wines in Kennedy Town.  Split between two floors, downstairs at Comptoir features a bar and counter seating, while upstairs has a private room that fits eight people. The vibe is right, the décor is simple and chic, and on our visit has attracted a few couples obviously on dates. We prop ourselves at the counter and start with the ham croquettes ($40). These have the right amount of filling and flavour, but fail when it comes to temperature, and this afflicts the subsequent dishes we chose off the chef’s menu. The scallop and mussels served in a shell ($88) has an acceptable creamy consistency and briny flavour, but its cool state was disappointing. The best dish of the evening turns out to be the lamb neck with eggplant caviar ($120). The meat is cooked perfectly and sauce reduction provides the right balance of sweet, savoury and tart. The unfortunate irony is that the dish is lukewarm even though it’s served on a hot plate, missing the satiating sweet spot it could have hit had it come straight from from the stove to our table. We finished the meal with a strawberry tartelette ($50) that manages the perfect marriage between crust and creamy filling, without being too sweet.  If you want a lively space to drink and have a few pre or post dinner nibbles, then Comptoir is a solid choice, but we wouldn’t commit to a full meal. Comptoir 42 Fo

TAP - The Ale Project

TAP - The Ale Project

4 out of 5 stars

It’s where everybody knows your name. Well, it isn’t exactly Cheers, but craft beer bar Tap Ale comes close with its quaint, cosy and completely unpretentious venue which features a veritable mix of customers, including ale enthusiasts, hipsters and chilled-out folk. And the bar sits on the outskirts of Mong Kok, away from the crowds and next to some of the most popular dessert joints in the city on Hak Po Street. We trickle in on a breezy, shorts and flip-flops-type of Sunday evening and admire the simple space here. Stools, wooden tables, blue brick walls and lines of bottles on the shelves. All you need. And then we salivate at the sight of 18 different types of craft beer on tap. There are no fewer than six local brews alongside ales from New Zealand, USA, Italy, England and Belgium. About every month or so, the selections on tap shift around with new choices. And if you want a bottle, there are about two dozen options.  We support our local breweries, so we go for an In the Mood for Spring by Young Master Ales ($65), which is available in 0.2 litres, 0.4 litres or a whopping two litre jug that’s also offered in a takeaway service. There are zippy floral notes of chrysanthemum and osmanthus that are gentle on the palate, resulting in a light and refreshing sensation. We pair our drink with the triple happiness ($74), which is a grilled cheese sandwich with three types of cheese, tomatoes and caramalised onion on sourdough. It’s well-balanced with a good ratio of cheese to

Luen Cheong Company (聯昌號)

Luen Cheong Company (聯昌號)

For a variety of lamb and cow hide, come to this charming and nostalgic establishment. The store is stacked and littered with a broad range of leathers coming in a variety of different colours and types. 

Alri Star Leather Factory

Alri Star Leather Factory

Besides boasting a selection of leathers costing $547 to $650 per piece, or $100 to $120 per metre, Alri also carries all the tools you need to start cutting and pounding away. Blades, chisels, hammers, gouges – you name it, they have it. On top of that, Alri also offers workshops off site, so beginners can learn how to put all these wonderful tools to good use.

Tao Yuan Fashion Accessories (濤源愛珠飾品)

Tao Yuan Fashion Accessories (濤源愛珠飾品)

A visit to Tao Yuan is like walking into a sweet store. An assortment of colourful jars of rainbow beads and gemstones line the walls to create a vivid wonderland. Pick up a basket and start choosing your desired combination of beads, with the cost measured by the weight of your basket.

Shun Cheong Li Full (順昌利豐珠飾)

Shun Cheong Li Full (順昌利豐珠飾)

When Halloween rolls around, drop by Shun Cheongs to find costume beading, feathers, fabrics, tulle and a bunch of outlandish, bright and festive materials to help with a costume. The choices are colourful and are sure to bring some fun to your look. 

CYH International Ltd (浩發製品有限公司)

CYH International Ltd (浩發製品有限公司)

CYH has walls of different buttons ranging from metal, vintage, knots and horns at slightly lower prices than competitors in the area. Depending on the type of button, one gross (bag of 144) of buttons can go from $20 to $100. The staff here are extremely friendly and helpful, and if you’re lucky, they might even break a bun and share their lunch with you.

Shing Tai Hong (成泰行)

Shing Tai Hong (成泰行)

It’s all in the details, which means you’re going to need the proper trim to add those finishing touches to your garment. Here, you find everything from piping and twist string to satin binding and reels of ribbon. 

Woollen

Woollen

This is one of the newest additions to the block and they carry a range of solid and print wool fabrics, suitable for outwear and overcoats for that cold three month stint.

Toho Shoji (Hong Kong) Ltd (東寶產業有限公司)

Toho Shoji (Hong Kong) Ltd (東寶產業有限公司)

At Toho Shoji, you’ll find reels of different silver and gold chains in various widths and formations to help you make your ideal accessory. You have to buy at least 5m, and the chains –  depending on the quality – range anywhere from $20 to $50 per metre. Go further into the two-store establishment and you find an assortment of metal ornaments.

MT Workshop

MT Workshop

If you are looking to bedazzle a clutch, shoes or a pair of sunglasses, this is a one-stop-shop for Swarovski crystals and semi-precious jewels. Prices generally range anywhere from $30 to $80 for a bag of crystals. There are a variety of sizes and shapes of crystals and jewels to select from, so you can find your perfect fit. 

News (2)

The death of Cantonese?

The death of Cantonese?

Hong Kong’s mother tongue is under threat. Cantonese may be centuries old but how much longer can it sustain the pressure from China to pick up Putonghua? By Arthur Tam and Anna Cummins. Additional reporting by Emily Cheng and Allen Jim __ Our tongue. Our voice. Language is the tongue that gives a nation its voice. And Hong Kong’s voice has never been as intrinsically linked to its identity as it is right now. Cantonese isn’t just the city’s language; it’s one of the many yardsticks by which Hongkongers measure their cultural and political differences from the rest of the Mainland. We all know the abrasive political situation between the Central People’s Government and the SAR is complex, contentious and set to continue into the foreseeable future.This is particularly magnified in the light of the 18th anniversary of the handover, as well as the recent rejection of the pro-Beijing electoral reform package. But it was four years ago, in 2011, that Hong Kong’s voice took its first major, measurable shift in tone. According to the government’s census, Putonghua overtook English as the second most spoken language in the territory for the first time in 2011, with 48 percent of people claiming to speak the official language of mainland China, and 46 percent claiming to speak English. In the 2001 census, only a third of respondents could speak Putonghua. Could Putonghua really eclipse Cantonese as the Chinese language of choice in our city within a few generations, or is this all c

Meth and the city: Exploring the surge in methamphetamine abuse in Hong Kong

Meth and the city: Exploring the surge in methamphetamine abuse in Hong Kong

Methamphetamine is rife in Hong Kong. Drug busts are at a record high and addiction is rampant. Arthur Tam investigates the root of this pervasive problem. Additional reporting by Anna Cummins "Crystal meth is an insidious drug. Ketamine is nothing compared to meth.” Author Paul Schulte is a part-time addictions counsellor at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital as well as other medical facilities across the city. And he’s one of the frontline witnesses to Hong Kong’s rapidly escalating problem with meth, a dangerously addictive yet easy to produce stimulant. “Crystal meth has an extremely expensive social and economic cost to society,” he continues. “The government should forget about ketamine and focus on meth.” Crystal methamphetamine, often known as ‘ice’ in reference to its white, crystalline appearance, seems to be everywhere right now. The Customs and Excise Department,  together with the Police Force, dealt with 1,013 meth related cases in 2014 – that’s almost three per day. Meth arrests are now only second to ketamine. Last December, customs officers made their largest seizures of the drugs at Chek Lap Kok airport, uncovering 104kg of meth worth $42million on its way to Malaysia. Some 611kg of meth was seized in Hong Kong last year, a three fold increase from 2013. In the first four months of this year there were more police cases related to meth in the city than any other drug. “It’s very easy to get ice in Hong Kong. I can be smoking in five minutes if I want,” on