Hong Kong Art Scene: A Walk Down Hollywood Road

I wanted my stopover to be different. Already familiar with China’s freedom of expression dilemma, I figured exploring the Hong Kong art scene would teach me a heck of a lot about the territory and the People’s Republic — from a very refreshing perspective.

Thus, I enlisted the help of Liuda HK to get a glimpse of the history of Chinese art and expression in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Below, some of my fascinating findings after a walk down Hollywood Road in Central.

contemporary Hong Kong art

Hong Kong Art Scene: A Walk Down Hollywood Road

It might have been 11 AM, but it was relatively quiet. “Its Cantonese nickname, ‘Cultural Desert,’ is quite fitting,” I thought.

Filled with tranquility, behind the walls of some of the most expensive spaces in the city, I delved into Chinese art for the first time.

Our guide, Raymond, introduced himself and the walk by explaining how the Hong Kong art scene was born.

art galleries in Hong Kong, Hollywood Road

Photo by ejorpin, Flickr

In the Beginning…

Hollywood Road might have been the second street to ever been built after the British colony was founded, but in 1987, it became the cradle of contemporary art in Hong Kong.

Fleeing the oppression of the mainland’s communist regime, Chinese art flocked to the SAR. Few artists came to sell their works or go into hiding.

Interestingly, most paintings from underground artists were brought in by Western journalists living in China in the 1980s and 1990s.

Xing Xing artists (known as The Stars Art Group) and Yuan Ming Yuan artists were some of the first to emerge and flourish here.

art in Hong Kong, Chinese criticism

Fleeing Socialist Realism

Screaming frustrations and desire for social change were clearly depicted through oils, watercolors, and canvases.

These artists who pushed away Socialist Realism–the Chinese state-sanctioned form of art–for finally revealing true freedom of expression and individualism forbidden in the mainland.

Chen Lianqing, art walk in Hong Kong

One of my favorites? Chen Lianqing. His work perfectly depicts the aforementioned plight of the Chinese people toward freedom of expression.

His paintings drew me in: they denounced not only the government, but also materialism.

The emotions portrayed were a reflection of how most people from the Sichuan Province of China are: sensitive, but very busy and naughty.

Chinese art in Hong Kong, Chen Lianqing

And, in the artist’s own words, wishing to escape some type of misery…

Intimate Emotions and Sculptures

Other works were truly surprising. Sexuality and intimacy abound– something I was not expecting from what I perceive to be an ultra-reserved culture.

What surprised me the most, though? Hong Kong art that depicted Communist China in ways that seemed to glorify it:

Chinese communist art in Hong Kong

Beyond the paintings, I found the Hong Kong art scene to be extremely rich in sculpture.

Unique, abstract emotions related to love and religion shone through.

My favorite installations were found at Park View: the only gallery we visited off Hollywood Road:

sculptures, Hong Kong art scene

That Buddha statue was created by binding intricate metal pieces.

What’s even more beautiful? Those delicate metal pieces are actually Chinese characters, all reading Buddha teachings:

Buddha art in Hong Kong

A similar art piece floated gracefully in the background:

contemporary Hong Kong sculptures

In the back, what seem to be a cross between Dali-inspired Surrealism and contemporary Impressionism hung from the walls:

Surrealism in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Street Art: Another Hidden Gem

After 2 hours, thirsty for more, we wrapped up by taking in some Hong Kong street art:

Hong Kong street art

Have you explored the Hong Kong art scene?

Many thanks to Liuda HK for the unique introduction to the Hong Kong art scene via Hollywood Road and vicinity. While this artwork was provided free of charge, I received no payment nor other compensation in exchange of positive reviews. This post is a reflection of my own feelings and conclusions after being exposed to contemporary Chinese and Hong Kong art.

Hong Kong Interesting Facts: The Funny, The Quirky, The Gritty

Hong Kong interesting facts, skyline

“This ticket allows me to visit an additional country!” But wait…China or Hong Kong? I mean, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong! Indeed, the Peninsula’s affairs are shrouded with mystery to most Westerners like myself. For this reason, I made it a goal to collect as many Hong Kong interesting facts as possible during my short stopover back in September.

From corruption and Mafia wars to pop star tutors and feng shui, I learned a good chunk about the “Fragrant Harbor” thanks to a few offbeat Walk In tours and a Spanish Hong Kong Island stroll (latter which was offered by a sweet Latin expat I stumbled upon at a Hungry Ghost Festival…wha!?). Continue below for that story and my other fascinating findings.

Hong Kong interesting facts, cuisine

Hong Kong Interesting Facts: The Funny, The Quirky, The Gritty

First off, how do you even call a person from Hong Kong?! I learned those who ethnically identify as Chinese call themselves Hong Kong Chinese. Yet, most English speakers simply call them “Hong Kongers.”

As a Chinese dependency, the mainland’s president is also the president of Hong Kong.

Even though Hong Kong is not an independent country, it has its own currency: the Hong Kong dollar.

Talk about prosperity: Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royce per person than any other city in the world.

Hong Kong interesting facts, feng shui

Architects in Hong Kong take feng shui into serious consideration when designing and building new projects. The philosophical system ensures elements are in harmony with their environment, which proponents believe bring good fortune in return.

A skyscraper is any building over 14 stories high. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than New York City. In fact, it doubles the Big Apple’s amount. What?!

Indeed, the 1104-square-kilometer territory has the most skyscrapers in the world.

Hong Kong residents also enjoy the fastest Internet in the world, on average.

noodles, Hong Kong interesting facts

weird Hong Kong noodles, anyone?

Make sure you eat noodles on your birthday: Hong Kongers believe this is one of the secrets to a long, prosperous life.

Hong Kong has two official languages: Cantonese, a southern Chinese dialect, and English. Yet, statistics show that 48% of the population claims to speak Mandarin–realistically making it the most common second-language.

English is not as widely spoken as I initially believed.

I was surprised.

This reminds me of some of the most delightful, creative usage of Engrish outside Japan:

Hong Kong interesting facts, Engrish

Only in Hong Kong…? Photo by raynehk14, Reddit

Why English, you may ask? Hong Kong used to be a Crown Colony–and a British Dependent Territory later on–between 1841 to 1997.

Minus three years and eight months of Japanese occupation between 1941-1945…

Don’t be fooled, though: Hong Kongers are (statistically) the smartest people on Earth. How come? At 107, the autonomous territory’s population has the highest average IQ in the world.

As a society that values education, national college examinations are extremely competitive in Hong Kong. So competitive, in fact, that the most successful English exam tutors are treated like pop stars. As of,

some tutors are more famous and wealthier than many celebrities!

Hong Kong interesting facts, English tutors

These are English college examination tutors. Yes, really.

Another random Hong Kong fact? Most toilets run on seawater!

And Bruce Lee totally won the 1958 Hong Kong Cha-Cha Championship. 


One of the quirkiest celebrations in Hong Kong is the Hungry Ghost Festival. Somewhat gritty to an outsider, activities involve giving food, burning fake money, and other offerings to roaming spirits the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Otherwise? Ghosts and ancestors will be hungry–and cranky.

Speaking of gritty: triads are commonly seen as Hong Kong’s equivalent to Italy’s Mafia. Yet, some proponents argue not all triad members are criminally active. Moreover, triads are rather loose, lacking the rigid hierarchy of the Mafia.

Still: Hong Kong has a dark organized crime past…

Hong Kong interesting facts, Mafia triads

Triad tattoos by Edwin Lee, Flickr

Typical activities of criminally-active triads include drug trafficking, money-laundering, prostitution, and extortion. The height of their involvement in such activities was the 1960s and 70s.

Wife with a cheating husband? You may legally kill him under Hong Kong law–but only with your bare hands.

Don’t worry, though: you are almost 300 times less likely to be a victim of homicide in Hong Kong than in New Orleans, USA.

Hong Kong interesting facts, license plates

Can’t forget Hong Kong custom license plates: my absolute favorites.

What a fascinating destination. Hong Kong: I’m most definitely coming back.

Do you know any other Hong Kong interesting facts? Share them below!

Special thanks to Vive Hong Kong and Walk in Hong Kong for the informative, complimentary tours! You are the main reasons why I fell in love with this interesting, wildly-different culture. This Latina is counting the days to visit again!

Taiwan Interesting Facts + Stunning Aerial Photos

I took some beautiful aerial photos during my first transpacific flight last year. They are some of the first shots I ever captured from Asia! So today I would like to share my favorites, in addition to some Taiwan interesting facts.

It’s crazy that, while I may have traveled to nearly 30 countries, it wasn’t until 2014 that I finally made it to this continent. Mind you, that’s if you don’t count Jordan and Israel as part of it 😉

Taiwan Interesting Facts + Views from Above

Taiwan interesting facts, aerial coast

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing out of my window. I felt like I was flying over Central Asia or somewhere over the Alps. Who knew Taiwan had such dramatic mountain ranges, right by the coast?

Taiwan aerial photos, geography

A quick search and I discover that about two thirds of Taiwan’s eastern coast is covered by as many as five rugged mountain ranges.

Most of the island’s population, however, live on the western plains known as Chianan.

Taiwan interesting facts, geography aerial photo

These Taiwan aerial photos, albeit beautiful, also show the island’s greatest weakness: Seismic hazard.

Due to some major faults and intricate tectonic plates, the island’s USGS rating is 9 out of 10. This categorizes it as one of the most dangerous places when it comes to seismic activity.

Taiwan aerial photos, the coast

This wouldn’t stop me from visiting this beautiful island again, though! I lived most of my life in Puerto Rico, an archipelago constantly being threatened by hurricanes, volcanic, and seismic activity as well. 😉

Taiwan aerial photos, mountains

Other top Taiwan interesting facts? Not only does it not have a democratic government, but its political status is ambiguous at best. In fact, part of its status quo reminds me of my own island’s, Puerto Rico.

While Taiwan has its own constitution, government, and even armed forces, it still isn’t recognized as a sovereign nation. This is mainly due to its lack of diplomatic recognition, such as loss of membership in the United Nations.

Taiwan aerial photos, coastal plains

While we Puerto Ricans do live in a free democratic society yet don’t have our own army, we can still sympathize with such ambiguous political status. One which, in my humble opinion, hovers in political limbo—somewhere between independence and neocolonialism.

China beaches: Beach Thursday Photo Essay

China beaches – while my eyes have yet laid eyes on them, they are on my travel bucket list. Typically, tourists head to Thailand or Indonesia for an Asian tropical escapade. However, judging from these photos, China beaches rival their counterparts. Definitely consider them when planning your escape from the city! Hope you enjoy my picks and photos.

Dadonghai beach, Hainan province

China beaches, Dadonghai

View from a restaurant at Dadonghai beach (Photo: AndyNor)

Lovely restaurants line the gorgeous turquoise waters of Dadonghai beach, one of my top China beaches. It is very popular due to its mild climate: Never too cold in the winter, never too hot in the summer. The green, lush mountains in the background reminded me so much of home – hundreds of thousands of kilometers away in the Caribbean!

Shek-O Beach, Hong Kong

Chinese beaches, Shek-O beach Hong Kong

Shek-O beach, Hong Kong (Photo: ElphHK, Flickr)

In addition to its glitzy skyline and and buzzing shopping centre, Hing Kong is a great vacation getaway. One of its best beaches is Shek-O not only because of its beauty, but also due to its excellent facilities and relaxed party scene. It is Hong Kong after all!

Tianya Haijiao, Hainan province

beaches in China, Tianya Haijiao

beautiful boulders on a section of Tianya Haijiao beach (Photo: Matthew Stinson, Flickr)

Like our my # 1 top pick, Tianya Haijiao is one of the best China beaches located in the Hainan province. Don’t be put off by the rocks pictured above, though – there is plenty of sandy coast nearby! This was simply one of the best shots I found 😉 Oh, and don’t forget to pay a visit a coconut plantation in the area!

Beach Hotel Resort grounds, Sanya

Chinese beach hotel in Sanya, Hainan province

Photo: Max Okojie, Flickr

Must have the best for the opening and the closing! Indeed, seems like Hainan province is our winner. From what I could see, it has most of the top beaches in China. Above, a photo of the Beach Hotel Resort grounds. I’ll have to stay there for a night or two when I need to escape from the craziness of Chinese cities – simply gorgeous!

best Chinese beaches, Beach Hotel Resort, Sanya

the beach behind the Beach Hotel Resort, Sanya (Photo: Max Okojie, Flickr)

What are your favorite China beaches? List them on a comment below!

Checkout other wonderful travel photos at Budget Traveler’s Sandbox

Travel Bucket List of the Week: Holidays RTW!

To learn more about #TravelBL Wednesdays, click here

Happy #TravelBL Wednesday peeps! The items on this week’s travel bucket list are related to Christmas and the holidays. So grab a pen and keep expanding that travel bucket list of yours!

travel bucket list, Loi Krathong festival

Loi Krathong festival, Thailand (Photo: Robert Pollai)

Holiday travel bucket list item #1: Loi Krathong festival, Thailand/Laos/Burma

I had no idea of this Thai festival’s existence until I heard it was on one of my fellow tweeps’ travel bucket list yesterday at the #TravelBL chat. Happening on the full-moon night of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually sometime in November), krathong rafts are released into the water as a way of “paying respects” to the spirits of this element. Fireworks and a huge party are typical of this celebration as well. Who wouldn’t want to go?!

travel bucket list, Vienna Christmas market

Christkindlmarkt in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Manfred Werner)

Holiday travel bucket list item #2: The European Christmas markets

I have heard so many things about the wonderful, magical Christmas markets in several cities across Europe. However, the one that has mostly resonated around me has been the one in Vienna! Although also Luxembourg…and Prague…but they are all close by so I’ll probably cross them all off my holiday travel bucket list at once! 😉

travel bucket list, Australia Day

Australia Day fireworks in Perth (Photo: Nachoman-au, Wikipedia)

Holiday travel bucket list item #3: Australia Day, AUS

We all know that Aussies really know how to party. Then, imagine how it would be to celebrate the first settlement in Port Jackson (nowadays, part of Sydney) with them?! A whole different story! I plan Australia Day celebrations to be top-ranked among the best parties ever experienced once I finally crossed this one off my travel bucket list. When will this happen? I was planning for 2012 or 2013, but it seems that Egypt & the Middle East are calling my name strongly once more. But behold my fellow Aussies, I shall join you soon enough!

Holiday travel bucket list item #4: Christmas in Bethlehem

Some call it West Bank; others Palestine. Tensions keep rising. Regardless of your political views, a vigil on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day celebrations in Bethlehem will definitely take your breath away. The aura and air simply smell differently; the surroundings charged with spiritual energy. I was really close to crossing this item off my travel bucket list 3 years ago, but I ended up spending Christmas in Puerto Rico instead. I, however, plan on joining the solemn vigil & celebration at the place most believe Jesus Christ was born in the future. Can’t wait for that day 🙂

Holiday travel bucket list item #5: The Chinese Lantern Festival

I have always been infatuated with this Chinese type of lanterns–they are romantic and add spice to any room’s decorations. Now, put thousands together and let them fly up into the sky, all during a traditional festival that has been celebrated for more than 2000 years — now that’s just something else! Oh btw, it is to scare the ghosts away, too 😀 it happens on the 15th lunar day of 7th lunar month, which will fall on February for the next 3 years. I wanna go in 2014, just because it falls on St Valentine’s Day — how romantic would that be?!

Want your travel bucket list items featured next week? It is simple: Post your travel bucket list items on your blog, post the blog post link in a comment below, tweet that post with the #TravelBL tag and then cc @latinAbroad (moi!) on it. Y listo! I’ll RT and feature the post on next week’s Travel Bucket List Wednesday. What if you guys take a vacay and I don’t have any new blog posts and lists to feature? I simply go around the Internet browsing and reposting the best of the best for our travel bucket list. Moreover, don’t forget to join us on Twitter #TravelBL chat every Wednesday at 12 & 6:15 pm (EST)! 😀

What’s on your holiday travel bucket list?