Tag Archives: nostalgia

Mid-Autumn Festival Hong Kong 2010, The Rhapsody of Hong Kong Memories: Lights, camera, lanterns!

The lanterns didn’t stop there. Over in Tsim Sha Tsui, there was an absolutely amazing lantern display entitled The Rhapsody of Hong Kong Memories. These cute and quirky lanterns, depicting nostalgic scenes from 1960s Hong Kong, were designed by Leo Tang and I thought they were just lovely. Perfectly capturing the spirit of Hong Kong with a fond heart and light touch, it’s the sort of ephemera that’s unlikely to go down in the history books but provokes all sorts of loving rose-tinted memories. Now I’ll let the photos do the talking; as ever, click for enlargements.

Hustle and Bustle

These show scenes from 1960s city life, including many traditional businesses that have since died out, like shoe-shiners, calligraphers and rickshaw drivers.

A policeman in his pagoda directing traffic in the days before traffic lights. (Vintage photos from HK Police Force website and HK Man’s Flickr).

A tai-tai at the tailor’s – check out that retro hair-do!

I loved the attention to detail. Here the little boy at the barber is reading a comic-book to keep him entertained – and you can actually look inside the box and see what comics are on offer (hello Astro Boy!).

This little fellow is Lap Sap Chung, a monster created in a campaign to stop HKer’s from littering. He’s being chased by Miss Super Clean, remembered by lots of pre-pubescent teenage boys for her mini-skirts and go-go boots! Mischievous Lap Sap Chung proved so popular that he soon found himself being recreated as merchandise and inflatable toys! His memory was so enduring – a survey found that over 90% of respondents had heard of Lap Sap Chung! – that he was revived for a recent Keep Hong Kong Clean campaign. He even has a Facebook Group in his honour! (Posters from Chan.police’s Flickr and Gwulo.com)

Also note the red, white and blue striped lanterns in the background. These are based on the infamous plastic ‘amah bags’ that you see at wet markets or lugged around by Filipinos, burst to breaking point. I even saw one woman trying to post a full one! (Photo from Red, White, Blue, Here, There, Everywhere Flickr)

Delicious Memories

What would HK be without its food?! Here’s someone enjoying a meal at a dai pai dong (food stall in the street) – love how you can see the pak choi in the owner’s wok!

A spinning cup of milk tea (ngai cha), so beloved of HKers, being serenaded by a teddy boy.

A street hawker, carrying wicker baskets full of vegetables suspended on a bamboo pole on his shoulder. I love how the lady buying from him even has a shopping list in her hand!

An ‘airplane olives’ (fei gei larm) hawker with his distinctive brown paper bag. If you saw him in the streets, you would call down and he would throw the olives up to you several stories high! You would then drop down your money – only paying for what you caught, mind!

Not sure what this guy’s offering us. Hotpot? Congee? An ashtray? (OK, the last one seems unlikely). Answers on a postcard please.

Starfruit-shaped lantern!

Home Sweet Home

This one confused me – was there some strange game in the 1960s where kids had to run to and from a tap?! My auntie had a look and thinks it refers to the days when children would have to go to the village tap to collect buckets of water for the whole family back home. (Those slippers are so Hong Kong as well!)

In the old days, apartments were very small and people slept in simple metal or wood bunk beds to save as much space as possible. Here, the little girl is making plastic flowers by hand, a part-time job many people had in the 1960s to generate a little extra income.

The mum, carrying her baby in the typical Chinese papoose-sling on her back, seems to have rollers in her hair. No GHDs in those days!

The little girl is holding a traditional rabbit lantern for Mid-Autumn Festival; these stem from the rabbit’s presence in the myth behind the Moon Festival and are still sold nowadays.

Traditional paper lanterns for Mid-Autumn Festival – none of that inflatable singing and dancing tat in those days!

Do I need to tell you this is a retro thermos flask?!

Play & Playground

You might notice that some of these happy children are running about in what appear to be the old-school colourful wooden building blocks that children from yesteryear used to play with.

The circle-shaped counters with different coloured airplanes on, seen floating in the background or decorating the giant lanterns, are from a popular Chinese board game, Flying Chess (飛行棋). I say board game, it’s actually played on a fold-up piece of paper and works similarly to Ludo or Frustration. I only noticed this when I was looking back on my photos afterwards and it’s the little touches like this that Tang totally nails; I actually remember playing this when I was little and seeing that detail really made me smile, which is exactly the sort of response I think he hoped for. (飛行棋 photo from DChome forum – I swear I have the exact same game at home!)

The centrepiece to the whole display was a giant rabbit lantern, stuffed with old-school lamps, shop signs and birdcages. The amount of work that must have gone into it! Almost seems a shame that it will all have to be taken down : (

Cute, charming and quintessentially Hong Kong. What’s not to love?

The Rhapsody of Hong Kong Memories, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza (near Star Ferry), Tsim Sha Tsui. 10 September until 17 October 2010, 6.30-11.30pm.

Don’t wake me up…

If there’s one thing guaranteed to make me feel like a 12 year-old again, it’s reminiscing over old-but-not-ancient tv shows. Especially the ones that aren’t actually the agreed ‘classics’ but the sort of not technically great but still holds a place in your heart stuff, that has the power to make one generation alone go goo-goo eyed yet cause blank stares and bemusement to everyone outside this narrow range.

So how are these pictures of the Saved By The Bell cast all grown-up for making you feel old? Take that, High School Musical, this will you be in 20 years!

In the UK, this used air at 9.25am on Channel 4. Oh, the days when I used to wake up at 9.25am through my own volition.

Zack Morris was my best friend Tom’s first gay crush. I wanted to be Kelly Kapowski but was probably always more of a Jessie Spano (sans the addiction to ‘I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…. scared’ caffeine pills). My Saved By The Bell tee from TruffleShuffle.com is the most commented-upon item in my wardrobe, eliciting knowing smiles and thumbs-up from random passers-by every time that I wear it (well, at least I hope that’s why they were smiling).

The cast look amazing and it makes my heart go all warm and fuzzy to see them back together again (this behind-the-scenes video is cute too). Of course, you’ll notice Screech is missing. In-between making porn, becoming a chess master and desperately flogging t-shirts on his website, I guess he was too busy. Or he just wasn’t pretty enough for this shoot. Or, given the number of years he clocked up with the SBTB franchise, he’s STILL working for Mr Belding.

Jimmy Fallon unsuccessfully tried to reunite the cast on his show (Screech and Tiffani ‘Kelly’ Thiessen didn’t sign up, although Thiessen released an odd viral about how busy she was which suggested that she was game), so I guess this photo shoot might be the closest we get. Although Mario Lopez (ah… those dimples are still cute as ever) does tantalisingly hint we might get a future reunion show later. Fallon’s attempts did result in this rather awesome interview with Zack Morris. He is STILL the coolest kid in school.

UPDATE: Come 2014, he finally managed to reunite four of the Bayside gang… I challenge you not to grin your way through this! And how do they all look EXACTLY THE SAME? Was there something magic in the water fountains at The Max?!

As a consolation present, Fallon instead reunited the California Dreams cast. HELL YEAH. In the UK, this would often air immediately after Saved By The Bell and was basically the same, except this lot were in a band (the ‘song an episode’ premise features in another childhood favourite obsession, Jem & The Holograms). It came from SBTB’s genius producer, Peter Engel who, once he’d found a successful formula, sure as hell stuck to it (Hang Time, Malibu CA, City Guys) – young attractive cast, cheesy jokes, “issues” episodes and a cavalier attitude to cast changes to keep the dead horse flogged for as long as humanely possible.

Again, the cast look sickeningly-good (possible because they’ve not exactly been exhausting themselves with work ever since) apart from the Latino one, who wore a leather jacket back in the day signalling his ‘bad boy’ character, and is now nearly unrecognisable (hang on, isn’t he Weevil in later seasons of Veronica Mars?!). Sly, the slightly rat-faced Tom Cruise-alike (couldn’t sing so became the band’s sleazy manager and of course, best character) even whips out the six-pack – oh, the desperation of out-of-work actors (not that I’m complaining).

But the real fangirl squeal is reserved for when the cast actually sing the theme tune (at 9.30 in the vid). Yes, these folks sung and played their instruments for real (although the badly-mimed, leotard frenzy that was the girls’ band in SBTB still remains a guilty pleasure that pops up way more often on my iPod than I’m ever going to admit).

I’m going to repeat – they sing the theme tune. Live. The warm fuzzy feeling produced by the SBTB photos just multiplied tenfold into a shivery happy glow. It’s actually a brilliant mellow theme song, which transports you instantly to laidback lounging on the beach. Amazing harmonies, evocative instrumentation, fantastic vocals (possibly in the days before Autotune existed). It’s actual theme song GOLD. In fact, let’s watch in all its full-length 90s glory – just wait for that guitar solo.

And it made me feel like a carefree child again for a few precious hours. These dreams *are* good.

Pictures: People Magazine