Jason Wordie
Jason Wordie

Hong Kong missed an opportunity to promote itself as tolerant and outward-looking when it hosted the Gay Games 2023, all thanks to a self-appointed cabal of guardians of ‘traditional family life’.

Ubiquitous throughout Hong Kong on both public and private buildings, glazed ceramic tiles were popularised through their use to prolong the life of poorly constructed buildings.

Hong Kong has always been relatively short on historical relics but in Sung Wong Toi, a rare quiet spot in the hubbub of Kowloon City, one of our most ancient antiquities looks silently on.

When the global telecommunications industry underwent a revolution, reducing the time it took for messages to reach their recipients from months to minutes, Hong Kong was well placed to take advantage.


Macau is the Portuguese spelling of Macao, the official name others now use, whose roots lie in the territory’s Chinese name. Macau has also been at different times a colony, province and ‘enclave’.

Banker Francisco A. Da Roza, scion of a storied Macau family, tells Jason Wordie how honoured he feels to be helping curate an exhibition about the Portuguese community’s contribution to Hong Kong.

Few images are seen as being as quintessentially Hong Kong as the Chinese fishing boat, used in copious marketing campaigns to evoke a sense of the city, despite such vessels having sailed away decades ago.

Cantonese food is fresh, sweet and oily – and cooks’ choice of fats to give it the latter quality have evolved. Pork lard is still used, but peanut, rapeseed and palm oil have been added to the Hong Kong diet.

The Hong Kong Police did a superb job during the Mid-Autumn Festival Fire Dragon parade in Tai Hang, being helpful, efficient and with no one channelling their inner Darth Vader.

Once famous for its vibrant nightlife, Hong Kong has lost its mojo, and unimaginative attempts to revive it are only ‘doomed to fail’, as officials are apt to say these days.

Once wildly popular across the Chinese world, cheongsam have largely vanished into the pages of history – no thanks to Suzie Wong, and elite Hong Kong girls’ schools.

A century ago most of Hong Kong’s Chinese population was illiterate. The disappearance from the city’s streets of the professional letter writers they used is a reflection of its greatest societal achievement.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Cantonese furniture was the benchmark of Chinese craftsmanship for the outside world, and renewed domestic demand for high-quality items is seeing traditional skill sets revived.

Relics of the past, Victorian-era bandstands were often a joint effort of local government and philanthropists – as was the case in Hong Kong – and became a focal point for communal entertainment.

The weather in Hong Kong is pleasant for only a few months starting in autumn, traditionally the start of the international tourist season. Clear skies used to be a draw, but they are a relative concept these days.

In most pre-war Hong Kong buildings, ceilings are much higher than in contemporary structures; even in residential buildings, three metres or more is not uncommon.

Hong Kong’s ‘educated’ elite have turned their toxic attention to the LGBTQ community. Yet these self-appointed arbiters of ‘public morality’ don’t represent the view of the public as shown by opinion polls.

European visitors from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon would head to the New Territories for days at a time, for hunting, golfing, military responsibilities – or sometimes just to get away from it all.

Humankind has been leaving its mark on public spaces since time immemorial, but at what point does graffiti morph from cynical vandalism into historical public record worthy of preservation?

Hong Kong-born Portuguese scholar José Maria ‘Jack’ Braga was one of a group of amateur historians, including Austin Coates, whose spadework dug up unexpected riches for later authors to utilise.

Economic relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines flourished in the 19th century, with one industry playing a significant role: rope making. Factories in Hong Kong sourced fibre from the Philippines.

With Hong Kong at a crossroads, the time is ripe for another book providing broad-ranging insight into the city, a feat not attempted since 1957’s comprehensive history work Hong Kong Business Symposium.

When Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953, Hong Kong celebrated with lion dances, fireworks and loyal toasts. For King Charles’ coronation in a now-foreign country, there was no such pomp and circumstance.

Loaded terms like colonialism are easily bandied about, but often poorly defined. Second-rate academics have built whole careers on the false premise that all colonisers were white, for instance.

British merchant Thomas Beale built a vast aviary in Macau in the early 19th century that housed birds from tropical Asia, including the exotic bird of paradise many naturalists had thought to be mythological.