Away With The Faeries: Hong Kong

Hong Kong

There’s a surprising number of business men hanging out in a surprising number of gay bars in Hong Kong, says Neil Geraghty. Just don’t be put off by the smell.


Hong Kong is the ultimate in east/west fusion, a city that lives and breathes western capitalism and yet has its heart firmly rooted in more gentle Taoist traditions. Drop by at the picturesque Man Mo temple on Hollywood Road and you’ll spot worshippers clutching Armani shopping bags in one hand while offering burning incense sticks to the Gods with the other. For tourists, this eclectic clash of cultures is an intoxicating brew and for gay travellers, Hong Kong has the added bonus of having the only sizeable gay scene in the Chinese speaking world.

While Western Europe sleepwalks into the 21st Century, Hong Kong is speeding ahead at full throttle. Home to the world’s largest number of skyscrapers, at times the jungles of housing blocks can seem like one of those futuristic nightmares as recently depicted in the sci fi blockbuster Cloud Atlas. At other times the effect is stunning. Few cities have such a spectacular skyline as Hong Kong Island and one of the best ways to appreciate it is to jump on one of the delightful vintage 1950s Star Ferries and chug across Victoria Harbour. The 10-minute journey is one of the cheapest and most spectacular boat rides in the world. Once you’ve alighted in the Central District wander up to the Peak Tram terminus for a thrilling funicular ride up to the summit of Victoria Peak. Vertigo sufferers be warned; at times the gradient is so steep, the skyscrapers appear to jut out of the mountain at a totally disorienting 45 degree angle. Time your visit for sunset when the forests of skyscrapers morph into glittering digital and neon lightshows.

After sunset, when the steamy daytime heat dissipates, the city erupts into retail frenzy. Shopaholics should make a beeline to Nathan Road’s Golden Mile. Here, giant neon billboards of flashing Chinese characters infuse an electrifying buzz to the busy streets. The main road is lined with a stellar cast of top labels while the side streets are crammed with funky independent boutiques. When you’ve had your fill of shrink wrapped trainers, wander down Temple Street night market and rummage through a labyrinth of designer fakes and fun tat, including the current bestsellers, angry bird USB sticks. At the end of the market dozens of fortune tellers sit in makeshift red and gold kiosks. Here you can have a cheap i ching reading done accompanied by the surreal sound of old-age pensioners singing Peking opera in outdoor Karaoke bars nearby.

Hong Kong can be a tough place to relax in but with over 200 islands, it’s easy to escape the frenetic urban pace of the city. Lantau is the largest island and the gleaming new Tung Chan metro line whisks you there from the city centre in next to no time. From Tung Chan hop on the terrifying glass-bottomed cable car to Po Lin monastery where the world’s largest seated Buddha sits serenely amongst pine clad mountains. It’s a beautiful spot to while away an afternoon listening to chanting monks, eating in vegetarian restaurants and wandering through gardens dotted with orange trees. When you’ve recharged your batteries hop on a ferry at Mui Wo village to Hong Kong Island’s ferry terminal where it’s a short stroll up to Hollywood Road, the centre of Hong Kong’s gay village.

Monday to Wednesday is always pretty dead in the bars but come Thursday, you’ll encounter large numbers of international bankers and businessmen unwinding ahead of the weekend. Start the evening at Volume BEAT where you can enjoy tasty tapas and vino on sofas strewn with zebra print cushions. You need to be a bit of a psychic to find Psychic Jack’s, a mellow first-floor lounge bar hidden away above the shops. Don’t be put off by the smell at Volume BEAT and Zoo. It comes from the nearby dried fish wholesalers, not from the innermost sanctums of these dark, snazzy late night watering holes. Weekend clubbers flock to Propaganda where the nearby antique shop owners hold their breath as priceless Ming vases shake to the beat late into the night. For such a humid city, Hong Kong has a surprising number of gay saunas where the city’s stressed out bankers regularly drop by to let off steam.

You may not feel like going to a sauna in such a climate but while you’re there take advantage of the city’s wonderful reflexology tradition. On almost every street corner you’ll find cheap and comfortable salons where friendly locals will massage and pummel your feet into nirvana. After all, the one thing you can’t do without in this fascinating and frantic maelstrom of humanity is a pair of happy feet.


The Very Best…


HOTEL: The Icon, 17 Science Museum Rd,

Sleek and stylish with the best hotel gym and swimming pool in Hong Kong. Savvy gay businessmen stay nowhere else.

RESTAURANT: Di Vino, 73 Wyndham St,

Divine Italian food, people-watching and a buzzy atmosphere. Feel good Hong Kong at its very best.

CAFÉ: Le Gouter Bernardaud, 1st Floor, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Rd,

Refuel with heavenly macaroons before you die of shopping exhaustion.

BAR: Volume Beat, 62 Jervois St

Cut through the Chinese whispers at this intimate little cruise bar.

CLUB: Propaganda, 1 Hollywood Rd

Get on down with Hong Kong’s gay stock brokers and bankers and if you’re lucky you’ll get some insider trading tips.

© 2013 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.