Judaism with a Hong Kong Flavour

Rabbi Asher Oser opens the heavy doors to Ohel Leah and steps inside, pausing for a moment to consider its vaulted ceiling, intricate woodwork and marble floors. As the door closes behind him, the sound of traffic fades, replaced by the quietude of Hong Kong’s oldest synagogue. “It’s a building of such history and gravitas, […]

A Window into Kuala Lumpur

Two weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were celebrating Malaysia’s national holiday at a street party in Bangsar, an upscale neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur. We had just walked there along broken sidewalks, the sun beating down on us — Kuala Lumpur is not the most pedestrian-friendly place — and we were in desperate need of […]

Mapping Segregation

Four decades have passed since the end of formal racial segregation in the United States, but as anyone can tell you, informal segregation remains a part of everyday life in many areas of the country. That becomes especially clear when you look at Eric Fischer‘s new maps of race and ethnicity in major American cities. […]

Mosque Street’s Other Name

In contrast to the bland apartment buildings on its south side, the northern side of Mosque Street is lined by a crumbling stone wall and vegetation spilling over from the lush grounds of the Jamia Mosque. If you peek over the wall, there’s a nice view of the mosque, which is the oldest in Hong […]

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Hong Kong’s Little Thailand

Before there was Gold Mountain — the promised land of North America — Chinese immigrants flocked to Southeast Asia, where they settled in countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Eventually, they came to dominate the regional economy, earning themselves scorn from some of the local native populations. 90 years ago, Thailand’s King Rama VI called […]

De l’Abitibi à Hong Kong

Franco-Algonquin hip hop is the last thing I expected to encounter in Hong Kong, but that’s exactly what I heard this past weekend at the former Central Married Police Quarters, which has suddenly become the most interesting cultural space in town. Over the past month, the Heritage X Art X Design festival and the Indie […]

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MC Yan in the Street

Last week, I posted a video by Thomas Lee in which he asked passers-by on Sai Yeung Choi Street where they would go if they could open a door to anywhere. Now he’s back with another great video, this time a (well-subtitled) Cantonese-language rap by MC Yan, whom you might remember as the founder of […]

Asia’s Only Jewish Film Festival

Howard Elias, founder of the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival There aren’t a lot of Jews in Hong Kong, but that hasn’t stopped the city from becoming the centre of Jewish life in Asia, with one of the continent’s oldest synagogues, an active community centre and the only Jewish film festival on this side of […]

A City on Screen and in Paint

Infernal Affairs, “I want my identity back” Enamel paint on canvas, 100cm(H) x 150cm(W), 2007 Hong Kong’s story is one best told on screen, through dihn ying, electric shadows. For decades, it was one of the world’s film capitals, and it was through film that Hong Kong projected itself onto the world with action films […]

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Through the Gate

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/4626505[/vimeo] Ever since my first visit last year, the Jamia Mosque, located near the top of the Central-Mid Levels escalator, has had a special pull on me. Hidden behind its stone walls is a verdant respite from the noise and stress of Central. A stately wrought iron gate acts as a portal between a frenzied […]

Preserving the King’s Legacy

One of the last remains of Tsang Tsou Choi’s work, now protected by a special coating and latex screen During his lifetime, the King of Kowloon was seen by the Hong Kong government as little more than a nuisance. But that was before the Star Ferry incident raised public awareness about identity, culture and heritage […]

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The Case for Greektown

Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s attempt to rename Park Avenue two years ago was a turning point in the street’s history. When that controversy emerged, a number of the street’s Greek merchants were already asking the city to create a Hellenic Quarter similar to Little Italy or Chinatown. The city spent $15,000 on a feasibility study that […]

Rebranding Park Avenue

The first banner was incongruous enough: “Avenue du Parc,” it read in a vaguely Hellenic font, set to a pale blue background. Underneath was the logo of the City of Montreal. Then, a couple of days later, I noticed other banners, these ones much more inscrutable: each featured a portrait of someone that was pulled […]

A City’s Former Self

Pierre Burton, the journalist, author and historian, once remarked of Calgary, “The two blocks between the Palliser Hotel and The Bay is the only part of the city that resembles its former self.” While that’s not altogether true (there are parts of town, like Inglewood and Ramsay, that retain the feel of a small prairie […]

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