If I had NT$100 for every time I heard someone say, “So, I’m going to Hong Kong next week…”, I would be a very rich woman.
You see, Hong Kong is one of, if not the most popular destination for expats living in Taiwan to do a visa run. For those lucky folk who don’t know what a visa run is, it’s basically a trip expats take to another country in order to renew/extend a visa to stay in their country of current residence. The lead up to the trip is coloured with excessive swearing/cursing as you berate yourself for having been so stupid to find yourself in a situation of needing a visa run.
I admit, I had previously scolded such people in my head as being too careless. I mean how hard is it to get your shit in order? Well, well, well. How soon I spoke! As you may know if you’ve been following my adventures, last year I also found myself doing a visa run to Hong Kong. The great unifying thing is that because visa runs are so commonplace, if you’re short on conversation material with someone, you can just exchange visa woe stories!
While some choose to do a go-there-and-back-in-24-hours trip, I took the chance to explore the island again. (You can read my previous Hong Kong entries, here). I never finished writing about my trip, so before I hear yet another person say they need to desperately go to Hong Kong, I want to share with you what I think is a “must do” if you find yourself there…
A trip to Central to breathe in all the art, galleries, boutiques on the streets, and a wander around all the design, concept stores and galleries in PMQ.
The reason Central is such an essential place to visit is because it delivers tenfold on the street art front. I could barely walk two metres without spotting another mesmerising or thought provoking art adorning an otherwise unspectacular wall.
There are a fantastic number of free galleries in Central too. I checked out quite a few that I happened to stumble upon. If you’re also keen on gallery hopping, don’t be intimidated by the closed doors. Simply push through and most times you’ll be warmly welcomed. Oh, and a word of warning- if you go on a Monday like me, the majority of galleries will be closed!
Fortunately, la Galerie and Sundaram Tagore Gallery were both open. I highly recommend both for the quality of their exhibited works and the warm atmosphere. Moreover, visiting doesn’t cost you a single dollar, so you really don’t have an excuse not to go if art is your thing!
After poking in and out of alleys, I spent a good part of the day and evening getting lost in the glory of PMQ. PMQ is a hub of design stores, galleries and artists workshops. I strongly recommend those with an interest in design, art and original products to plan a visit. All the galleries are free and you can enjoy some of Hong Kong’s most promising talent.
What makes the design stores in PMQ so unique is that in most there is workstation where you will see the artists working on their designs as you browse. Is that not incredible?
So captured was I that I went into nearly every single stop. Considering that there are around 100 stores, this was quite a feat! Expect a large array of original, sometimes obscure clothes, handmade accessories and glasses and innovative lifestyle products.
Mind you, as the focus is man-made goods, the majority of stores are quite pricey. Considering the amount of labour which you can see- right in front of your eyes- goes into each piece, I think the price point in most circumstances seemed quite fair. Support local artists, yo!
Of course, if you just wanted to do some window shopping and spend a relaxing afternoon strolling around, there is absolutely no pressure to buy anything. The sales staff are mostly all very welcoming, and seem appreciative of customers’ interest in their wares. That is, if they’re not concentrating on putting thread in their needle!
When I went, there was a brilliant traveling popup art work called “Play Me, I’m Yours”, which coincidentally I caught in Sydney years ago! It’s a herd of pianos each uniquely decorated, ready for you to play. While this public art display may be long gone, when you go there’s a good chance they’ll be something new to entertain you.
A trip to PMQ is just like spending the afternoon browsing a shopping mall- except replace sifting through the same old fast fashion and accessories with hand-made, original designs, and imagine thoughtful, innovative design and interior pieces in place of mass-produced objects.
Find yourself with an afternoon to spare in Hong Kong? Head to Central and sign up to injection of art, design and innovation.
How to access: The easiest route is to take the MTR. Central is the end of the Tsuen Wan Line and is on the The Island Line. Once you get off, just wander- there’s no set “course” as that’s the beauty of stumbling upon street art!
Where? No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central
When? Daily, 7:00am – 11:00pm
Nearest MTR? Central
More information? PMQ Homepage