The Tatler Community Shares Their Favourite Summer Memories In Hong Kong
Sunshine? Check. Yacht parties? Check. Good food? Check! No one does summer like the Hong Kong It-crowd. Members of the Tatler community share their favourite memories from summers spent on home turf. From learning how to breakdance and playing the bongo drums to lying on a boat in Sai Kung and attending glamorous parties in the heart of the city, when you live in a place like Hong Kong, paradise is only ever just around the corner.
In the summer of 2006, I hung out with my sister Charlotte a lot. We played the bongo drums with friends in a Pok Fu Lam bunker. We snuck onto random building rooftops in Wan Chai with coolers filled with drinks from 7-Eleven. We got sunburnt trying different watersports in Tai Tam and went to fancy soirées hosted by luxury brands. It felt like we spent summer in different countries because of the variety of landscapes and experiences we were spoilt with in Hong Kong. The city is a cosmopolitan beach town with jungle adventure and countryside Zen. Now that I have a family, we continue to treasure all these pockets of wonders and I have discovered even more amazing places in the New Territories and on Lantau island because of my husband, Thierry Mandonnaud.
Hong Kong is the perfect place for watersports. When it’s hot, there is nothing better than spending the whole day on the water. We take our speedboat out to discover wild beaches across the many islands of Hong Kong. Thierry surfs, kite surfs, wake surfs, free dives and does any sport that gets him in the water. We also climb waterfalls, as I loved doing that on Lantau growing up. The hot sun also makes it great to laze around by the sea with friends, a cold beer and a picnic, which I used to do a lot growing up in the Southern district. We’d beach-hop between Chung Hom Kok, Stanley, South Bay and Tai Tam. Hong Kong summers are the best.
The summer of 1983 was when breakdancing invaded Hong Kong. The popular TVB variety show Enjoy Yourself Tonight had a breakdancing competition and I was completely hooked. My eight-year-old eyes were glued to the TV. A team called New York, New York came on and blew my mind. They danced to Prince’s When Doves Cry, had funky dyed hair and spun on their heads. I asked my mother if I could dye my hair red which, despite being vehemently rejected, did not stop me learning how to breakdance. That summer, I became the first kid in my neighbourhood to be able to do a head-spin. I was a hero. I also had a raw patch on top of my head in the shape of a swirl, which probably led to my baldness nowadays.
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My best summer in Hong Kong was during Art Basel in 2019 when there were back-to-back events that were so much fun that it verged on stressful trying to decide where to go. I attended the AmfAR [the Foundation for Aids Research] Ball with my friend and Crazy Rich Asians actress Fiona Xie, played snooker with Nicole Scherzinger at the Rosewood, danced up a storm with Alexander Skarsgård at Dragon-i and saw the most spectacular artworks at the main attraction itself, which was Art Basel. But ultimately, the highlight of that summer was appearing on the May cover of Tatler Hong Kong.
I’ve lived in Hong Kong for 30 years and despite 2020 being a difficult time for many globally, I found things to be grateful for and it happened to be my best summer so far. We had our three kids home for almost a year, which we haven’t had since they left for boarding school. Together we experienced the joys of many firsts during quarantine at home: cooking under the Zoom tutelage of Antoni Porowski of [TV show] Queer Eye, manic mahjong games, sunset Aperol spritzes and adopting a new German shepherd puppy. We also celebrated a number of Chan clan milestones throughout the summer, such as my son’s college graduation, mine and my husband’s 25th anniversary, both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and my 55th birthday.
My favourite summer ever was when my now-husband, Sean Ahn, asked me to be his girlfriend. The evening began at the Palace IFC cinema, where we watched [South Korean film] Parasite. This was followed by dinner at Lung King Heen and then drinks at Caprice, where he popped the question. I didn’t say ‘yes’ on the spot but we ended up dating not long after. Summer in Hong Kong always involves great gatherings with loved ones: relaxing under the sun, admiring the coastlines, venturing out for sumptuous seafood on the islands and enjoying watersports.
My best summer memory in the city would be one night on a hidden beach building a bonfire with my friends Alison Chan and Karim El Azar and their kids. We danced around to music, toasting marshmallows on our makeshift bonfire.
The best summers are when we get to go to beaches and hang out. The upsides to Hong Kong summers are visiting the islands with family and being with friends.
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One of my best memories of summer in Hong Kong was when we spent the night on a boat on the water in Sai Kung, feeling the serenity at night and waking up in the middle of the beautiful bay. My family and I had the best of both worlds: we were so close to the city yet we could enjoy the nature around us. I love wake surfing. We wake surfed at sunset and sunrise. It was just beautiful.
My favourite summers were when I threw pool parties for my daughter’s friends at my parents’ Sai Kung holiday home. It’s filled with exquisite art pieces collected by my brother Evan, and the kids would enjoy al fresco dining or a BBQ and lying by the pool for hours. As my daughter goes to school abroad, summers spent in Hong Kong allow her to spend more time with my parents, too.
Believe it or not, last summer was the first we ever spent in Hong Kong. Considering the circumstances, my family and I had a wonderful summer together. I was determined to explore all the amazing places, like waterfalls, trails, villages and beaches. Our favourites include bike rides at Tai Mei Tuk, making salted egg yolks, visiting the stilt houses in Tai O and swimming in the Man Cheung Po infinity pool. Everything is super-accessible, which means you can visit a farm to go strawberry picking, enjoy a beautiful hike and end up on the beach for sunset all in one day.
Most of my sunny weekends are spent at my little Lamma Island getaway. It’s a charming apartment with a garden overlooking the sea. I spend long afternoons there with an Aperol spritz, watching the sunset while grilling fresh fish on the firepit. Sometimes I throw themed parties there, like an ode to Mykonos or French Brittany. Hong Kong is full of fantastic landscapes and very different lifestyles. From high-rises to beach houses, paddles to yachts, you can find everything you need to spend a memorable summer here.
My favourite summer in Hong Kong was when I turned 18. It was the summer I got my dog, Bella. All my friends came over and met Bella for the first time. We had a really fun pool party—it was loud and crazy, and then we had a relaxing BBQ on the roof looking at the beautiful sunset. It was a perfect day. Hong Kong summers are great because there are always so many things to do, including boating, hiking, surfing, island-hopping or going to the beach, and everything is within 30 minutes’ travel time. Also, the malls and restaurants in Hong Kong have really strong air conditioning so if it gets too hot, you can just go indoors.
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Summer is my favourite season: it’s about dreams, imagination and feeling re-energised. I usually devote all my summer months to preparing for fashion weeks in September and coming up with new campaign ideas and product launches.
My best memories of summer are from my two fashion shows in 2017 and 2018: one was on Duddell Street in Central, the other was on the rooftop of Chek Lap Kok’s terminal Two building. Though summer in Hong Kong is definitely stifling, there are many ways to escape the heat. I get a lot of joy from having an ice-cold Hong Kong-style lemon tea on a hot summer’s day.
Summers mean early-morning trail runs followed by jumping into the ocean to cool down afterwards. Nice trails like MacLehose sections one to three, The Twins and Violet Hill are my favourites. Last summer Annabelle Bond, Lisa Haydon and I went to Sharp Peak in Sai Kung for a challenging hike. We had a 360-degree view of the turquoise sea and beautiful mountains. Healthy lunches at the Hong Kong Country Club or lazing by the pool with a good book are also high on my list of favourite summer memories.
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My favourite memory of summer was in 2004 when I went to Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary bash at Tamar. It was a super-high-octane party-to-end-all-parties and nothing has surpassed it in terms of scale, impact or sheer brilliance since. It encapsulated the crazy golden years of serious party-throwing in Hong Kong. I remember being so ecstatic to have scored an invitation. I think the dress code was “gold”, and I remember asking my seamstress to stitch suede seams onto my golden chainmail sleeveless top to match my indigo denim. I worked out like crazy beforehand to look good on the dance floor. It was the best party I have ever attended in the city.
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