By LUXE City Guides
When Utah natives Ban Chai (Jared Eyring) and Travis Tucker lived in Hong Kong, little did they know that 10 years later they’d have taken more than a little of the Fragrant Harbour home with them care of their all-Cantonese rap double act, The Gwai Lou Show (GLS). Since their first song, What’s Up HK, rapped entirely in Cantonese, went viral at the end of 2017 the duo have attracted thousands of followers on Facebook and YouTube. Fresh from shooting a series of videos for Discover Hong Kong, Ban Chai and Travis share their top five tips on how to get the most fun out of your visit to Hong Kong.
For the GLS, hands down the best way to engage with Hong Kong is by taking a deep dive into local culture, be it ticking off sights like the divine Wong Tai Sin Temple and the former police HQ turned heritage-arts compound Tai Kwun or exploring everyday activities that reflect Hong Kong’s living history and culture. The guys channelled their inner Bruce Lee with a kung fu lesson from a master si fu and spent a focused few hours learning calligraphy with Wah Gor, whose elegant brushwork has adorned street signs, books and movie posters for more than 30 years.
But it was the quirkier custom of ‘petty person beating’ that stood out most for the duo. The age-old practice of dispelling evil by hitting a paper cut-out that represents a ‘petty’ person in your life, “was wild!” say GLS. “We’ve never experienced anything quite like it. We didn’t really understand what was going on, but we sat down and enjoyed the ride. It’s a fun experience that’s truly unique to Hong Kong.”
Wah Gor Society
- 12/F, Lung Ma Building, 552 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
- +852 2875 8132
- www.wahgor.hk (Chinese only)
Petty Person Beating
- Junction of Hennessy Road and Canal Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
“If you have time, go out to Sai Kung,” recommends Travis who frequently escaped to the district’s picturesque mountains and beaches when living in the city. “I think it’s so cool that you can be standing on Hong Kong Island which is as metropolitan as it gets, and 40 minutes later you can be on beautiful beaches or in Sai Kung itself eating seafood, virtually fresh off the fishing boats.”
Ban Chai is equally fond of Hong Kong’s great outdoors. “While the dramatic layout of Hong Kong and its buildings are a big attraction, like any city, there are times when you want to get away from it all,” he says. “I enjoyed visiting Monkey Mountain in Kam Shan Country Park,” Ban Chai recalls, “it’s a great place to hike and explore, but there are also monkeys! The first time I went, I’d never seen a monkey in the wild before, it was unreal!” Ban Chai is careful to advise keeping a safe distance from the eager marsupials, “hide your food, don’t get too close and they will usually leave you alone,” he says, though he’s never one to miss a great photo opp, “I mean, how cool will it be to get a Hong Kong selfie with a wild monkey in the background?”
English is so widely spoken in Hong Kong that there are many expats who speak zero Cantonese, apart from a friendly “jo sun”. Not so for the GLS. Before arriving in the city, Travis and Ban Chai took a 12-week language course to learn the fundamentals, but they really honed their skills by speaking Cantonese daily in Hong Kong. “Our Cantonese still isn’t perfect, and we still have a lot to learn, but it really helped connect with people, and engage with the city on another level – and it’s fun to learn,” the guys say. Their tips for aspiring Cantonese speakers? “The best way to learn is to listen how people talk and imitate them – try to sound the same. Sometimes we wouldn’t speak English all day, which helped us to memorise the language.”
Coming from the western US state of Utah, not surprisingly the GLS hadn’t sampled much authentic Cantonese food before they lived in Hong Kong and, like many visitors, they quickly developed a taste for the national staple: dim sum. On their return to the city, they sidestepped the usual tourist haunts for local favourite Lin Heung Kui. This three-storey no-nonsense diner in Sheung Wan, where the decor plays second fiddle to the food, was a real treat. “The food was absolutely delicious,” says Travis. “We had usual dishes like siu mai, but also tried fish maw rolls, chicken feet and steamed beef for the first time, all washed down with palate-cleansing pu’er tea.”
Ban Chai encourages visitors to try street food, and was wowed by the abundance of fresh fruit on offer, “the mangoes, the dragon fruit, they’re not only delicious, but cheap! I love buying from the vendors on the street corners,” he says. Both guys also developed a taste for local bakery products “the pineapple bread, the coconut bread – since being back in Utah I’ve really been missing those,” Ban Chai says nostalgically.
Lin Heung Kui
- 2-3/F, 46-50 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
- +852 2156 9328
“No matter what you’re looking for, Hong Kong has a bit of everything to offer,” says Travis. For the GLS, the city’s vibrant diversity is what makes it such a fun place to visit, and live. “If you want the big city hustle-bustle you can get it,” Travis continues, “if you want a cultural experience, to explore the food, the language and the way people live you can totally do so, then you also have the main tourist attractions like The Peak and the amusement parks, while at the same time it’s easy to have a beach vacation and not even deal with the city,” he says. Hong Kong has so much to offer, the transportation is awesome and most people speak English – what’s not to love?
The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.
Information in this guide is subject to changes without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.