Peter Cheung On His Favourite Summer Memories And Holiday Plans
As a kid who moved from Hong Kong to Canada at a young age, I practically lived for my summer breaks back home. The heat, the sun, the humidity—Hongkongers complain so much about summer but I’ve always just loved the vibe. Join me with a glass of something icy by the pool as I gaze back at my best summer memories and what is coming up this year. I am so excited for my favourite season in Hong Kong.
The Hotel Kid
The Hong Kong Hilton was my home during my teenage summer holidays. It was the most glamorous hotel in Hong Kong and, as I roamed the hotel all on my own, I’d feel like Eloise, the classic children’s book character who lived on the top floor of a New York City hotel. The Hilton had it all: from Cat Street, the 24-hour coffee shop that was the place for celebrity sightings and people watching, to the top-floor nightclub Eagle’s Nest, where I had birthday dinners with my friends. It was the most incredible place to call home in the Eighties.
Beau of the Ball
Aside from the gang at the Country Club, I met other lifelong friends in the summer of 1988. Hong Kong hosted the first Vienna Opera Ball outside Vienna that December in celebration of the grand opening of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (the old one). It was Hong Kong’s first debutante ball, with 60 couples aged 17 to 21, and after being selected, we were trained by the legendary Christine Liao on proper ballroom dancing and bonded over twice-weekly rehearsals.
On the day, we were individually presented to the audience in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. With young ladies in white gowns and young gentlemen in tails, we performed a waltz for the attendees—mostly our parents—who were so thrilled their children had entered society.
Lan Kwai Fun
In the early Eighties, Tsim Sha Tsui was the place to go for a boogie, with hotspots like Hot Gossip, Canton Disco and Hollywood East. However, as the decade wore on, Lan Kwai Fong began emerging as a nightlife destination, and all the kids who’d come back from studying overseas would converge there nightly. We didn’t need to make any plans; we just knew where to go at what time to see which friends and where. The night began at Graffiti, then it was California, and in the wee hours it moved to Club 97. The more the merrier; we moved together in a wave from one club to another every night, six nights a week.
See also: Peter Cheung's Hot List: The Top 11 Moments That Shaped Hong Kong Culture
The Breakfast Club
During my summers as a kid, each day from 9am to 9pm, I was dropped off at the Hong Kong Country Club. I spent all my days there, occupied mostly by hours of tennis training, but also met so many of my childhood friends. We were an enormous, very international group of all ages, and all hung out together in one big gang. We ate lunches and dinners together, celebrated birthday parties, chilled by the pool and formed lifelong friendships. It was a golden era: it was simply the place to be, everyone knew your name, and you always had someone to hang out with.
Fly the friendly skies
As a kid, summers back in Hong Kong began with the spectacular approach to and arrival at Kai Tak airport. First-time arrivals would always gasp with fear, but it was amazing to fly so close to buildings that you could see inside flats. On Cathay Pacific, the landing theme song was Barry White’s Love Theme and I would be so excited. Once the doors of the plane opened, the smell that rushed in was a sign that indeed we were back to the “fragrant harbour”. I also loved the ramp of the arrival hall: coming down it was like being on a fashion catwalk.
See also: The Kai Tak Sky Garden Officially Opens To The Public
After sitting pretty during last year’s summer, here are five ways I’ll be spending my time during the next few months.
See you there
This summer sees the highly anticipated grand opening of Carlyle & Co, the Rosewood Hong Kong’s new members’ club, inspired by the Carlyle Hotel in New York. Spread over the three top floors of the K11 Musea building, the beautifully designed space will offer stunning views of the Hong Kong skyline.
See also: Carlyle & Co. Is Hong Kong's Newest And Coolest Private Members Club
Leaving on a jet plane
I am hoping that travel can resume and I hear that Thailand is on the horizon as one of the countries Hongkongers will be able to travel to first. Aside from the great food and bars, I have a lot of friends in Bangkok that I would love to reconnect with.
See also: The Best Thai Restaurants In Hong Kong
Back in full swing
I am excited to watch homegrown performances on stage again. From ballet to contemporary dance and theatre to orchestral music, the city’s performing arts companies are all planning exciting programmes.
See also: Hong Kong Ballet Makes A Glittering Return With George Balanchine's Masterpiece, "Jewels"
Dive right in
A new leisure activity to pick up is “dry swimming” (and you can keep your clothes on), which is the literal translation of the Cantonese phrase for playing mahjong. It was always my mom’s favourite pastime. I can play the basics but all my friends have picked up mahjong with a vengeance over the past year.
See also: How To Play Mahjong: A Beginner's Guide
I have always loved throwing birthday parties that are really for my friends. My last soirée was in 2018, for some 350 of my closest friends at the Grand Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom. I am so glad we had that party as it was probably the last time we were all together. This year might have to be a smaller affair but the party continues.
See also: Peter Cheung On His Favourite Dining Experiences From The Past Pandemic Year