info I contact
editorial schedule
join the realtime email list
become a friend of realtime on facebook
follow realtime on twitter

magazine  archive  features  rt profiler  realtimedance  mediaartarchive

realtime traveller

 Da Contents H2

July 22 2015
Place: Seoul, South Korea
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist

February 4 2015
Place: Bourges, France
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist, RT Online Producer

March 26 2014
Place: Split, Croatia
Traveller: Peter Volich, artist

September 4 2013
Place: Linz, Austria – Ars Electronica special
Traveller: Matthew Gardiner, artist, researcher, curator

May 1 2013
place: brussels, belgium
traveller: sophie travers, performing arts producer

January 30 2013
place: glasgow, scotland, united kingdom
traveller: robert walton, director, live artist, lecturer in theatre at vca

November 6 2012
place: auckland, aotearoa, new zealand
traveller: gail priest, sound artist, associate editor realtime

October 23 2012
place: santiago, chile
traveller: tim welfare

September 18 2012
place: munich, germany
traveller: glyn roberts, playwright/producer

July 17 2012
place: detroit
traveller: rebecca conroy, trans-disciplinary thinker maker doer

July 3 2012
place: beijing, people’s republic of china
traveller: dan edwards, writer/journalist

place: yogyakarta
traveller: malcolm smith, artist, arts manager and curator

May 22 2012
place: wroclaw, poland
traveller: janie gibson, actor

May 8 2012
place: beirut, lebanon
traveller: jim denley, musician

place: shanghai, people’s republic of china
traveller: thea baumann, executive producer aphids, director of metaverse makeovers

April 24 2012
place: berlin, germany
traveller: jana perkovic, writer, urbanist

place: hong kong, people’s republic of china
traveller: bec allen, arts producer

March 6 2012
place: barcelona, spain
traveller: jodi rose, sound artist, writer

place: new york, usa
traveller: michaela coventry, dance producer

place: sarajevo, bosnia & herzegovina
traveller: kym vercoe, performer

place: turku, finland
traveller: nigel helyer, artist


place: hong kong, people’s republic of china

traveller: bec allen, arts producer

Bec Allen in Hong Kong Bec Allen in Hong Kong
reason for travelling

I was in Hong Kong November 2011-February 2012 completing an Asialink Arts Management Residency.

compact pleasures as east meets west

Three months. Seven million people. 7,417 legit skyscrapers. All on an island half the size of Canberra.

It’s the ‘Asian Century’ and I was on a mission to see, hear, taste and wrestle with all that lies on the doorstep to the great People’s Republic. Wintertime is festival season in Hong Kong. The weather is bearable and the constant smog finally clears to reveal the chaotic, frustrating, completely intoxicating mix of east meets west. For the culture vulture there is Detour, an annual design festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival ( and nearby Macau Fringe. For more traditional festivities it’s Chinese New Year—fireworks, banquets, lucky money. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.

At first Hong Kong can be a lonely place: 20-somethings taking a gamble on the stock market, heaving ex-pat bars and distant locals. But with a smattering of Cantonese and a good (very good) map, this city can feel like home, just better.

for culture…

The LCSD (Leisure Culture Services Department) controls almost all of the cultural centres and events in Hong Kong. I chose to avoid these.

Bamboo Theatre in
Hong Kong High Risers Hong Kong High Risers
photo Bec Allen
The West Kowloon Cultural District offers Cantonese Opera in a proscenium arch theatre entirely constructed from bamboo. The first program of The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority will be become an Asian cultural juggernaut under the direction of Aussie Michael Lynch.

At the Hong Kong Fringe Club you can see everything from Cantonese stand-up to contemporary dance via slow food workshops in this collection of spaces in an old cold storage building in Central District. Tip: the rooftop bar/cafe serves a vegetarian buffet lunch daily. One of the only cafés with a genuine view of the sky!

Asia Art Archive offers a treasure-trove of publications documenting the vast landscape of contemporary art in Asia. You can easily spend a few hours trawling the shelves here. They host monthly artist talks where I managed to hear Yang Fudong talking about his epic No Snow on the Broken Bridge, 2006. (See RT103). They also produce the Backroom Conversations Program at the annual ART HK Art Fair (May 17-20, 2012).

Street art, Hong Kong Street art, Hong Kong
photo Bec Allen

Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival is HK’s first big outdoor music festival. See international acts alongside indie Asian songsters and K-Pop (Korean pop). Includes a film program presented by the British Council and will take place December 2012, Kowloon Waterfront Promenade.

Artist Studio Visits are abundant. Check out the Fo Tan Estate (, a collection of studios hidden amongst a maze of industrial buildings. The collective hosts regular open access weekends when over 200 studios are on view. Closer to town is Cattle Depot: home to Frog King and Queen, HK Pavilion Venice Biennale 2011) and Videotage among others.

Sound Pocket is a small organisation specialising in sonic practices and study. Housed in a loft space inside a nondescript factory building on the edge of Victoria Harbour, it’s a gem of serenity and aural contemplation. With regular artist talks and listening parties it’s like sitting in someone’s loungeroom.

Bowrington Rd Market, Hong Kong Bowrington Rd Market, Hong Kong
photo Bec Allen

for refreshment…

Cooked Food Centre, top floor of the Bowrington Road Market, Wan Chai, open 6am to 2am. This is a temple to fast food Cantonese style; the duck curry stall offering is delicious.

Fancy a queue? Then line up at the world's cheapest Michelin starred restaurant for delectable parcels of goodness in the form of steamed dumplings (Tim Ho Wan, 8 Kwong Wa St, Mongkok). Look for the green sign next to the firearms shop.

Other end of the scale is the 30th floor Aqua Spirit Bar. Sit back and watch the nightly laser show across the harbour whilst sipping their signature cocktails (1 Peking Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui).

for sleeping…

Short term studio rental is the best value for money in a town that measures in square feet not metres…be prepared for ‘compact.’

other highlights…

Surprisingly Hong Kong Island has some amazing hiking tracks. The best by far is the Dragon's Back across the top of the ridge, leading you to Shek O Beach for the best Thai feast in town.

There are also hundreds of islands off the coast of Hong Kong. My pick is Po Toi, a 30 minute boat ride from Stanley Market. With stunning views and cliffs it’s barely inhabited save for a restaurant serving the absolute best seafood.

For a truly surreal experience get your James Bond on by taking a turbo ferry to Macau. High rollers, poker, dancing girls and a faux Venice. Playing indefinitely is Franco Dragone’s House of Dancing Water—must be seen to be believed.

Finally, grab a bowl of noodles, sit back and watch the hustle of Hong Kong Island pass you by from the top deck of an old wooden tram. They trundle from one end of the island to another, at one point going right through a street market!



Detour Festival

Hong Kong Arts Festival

Macau Fringe

Bamboo Theatre/West Kowloon

Hong Kong Fringe Club

Asia Art Archive


Fo Tan Estate


Frog King

Sound Pocket

Aqua Spirit Bar

City Loft Serviced Studio

For more on Hong Kong in RealTime see Melinda Rackham’s survey of HK media arts in RT107


Bec Allen is the Producer with Kate Champion’s company Force Majeure, Sydney.She is a graduate of NIDA and has been working in producing, stage and company management for the past 10 years for companies including Belvoir, Sydney Theatre Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Bell Shakespeare, Performing Lines, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and most recently as Creative Producer for Darwin Festival (2009/10).

For more on Force Majeure see realtimedance

© Bec Allen; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

Back to top