JUST LAST WEEK a friend treated me to a pocket of priceless history deep in Wan Chai. Well, just a few days later, some fellow exchange students invited me to a taste of the complete opposite: a ‘bonding opportunity’. In exchange student lingo, that means to head to a bar and drink the evening away. My group were particularly keen to utilise what, to young university students looking for a cheap reason to party, would be too good to be true in any other part of the world, let alone in Hong Kong. Our group guide told us that the place was in Wan Chai too.
So I tag along – besides, these are my hall mates, so I had better join them for the sake of bonding – and when we find the bar, what do I see?
Yep, that’s the Blue House right there. Quite a contrast when next door, this joint sells beer, wine and spirits for HK$1 during happy hour. OK, it is too good to be true – it’s at 5 pm, and the price doubles every 20 min until 7 pm. You’d think that at this rate, the clientèle would comprise university students looking for quick booze – but interestingly, the place appears to be packed with expats.
I’ve gone on more than one too many diatribes about the contrast between east and west, traditional and modern, cultured and decadent. But nowhere could it be more aggressive than a Westerner-run joint virtually giving away alcohol setting up in front of a place run by old-time Hong Kongers – the cheap meets the priceless. But the staff keep track of how many drinks you order – keeping it classy. Nonetheless, if the cosmopolitan Asian city is full of cultural contrasts, then Hong Kong’s critically limited space makes them all the more ubiquitous than anywhere else in the world.
Next time: if this was the introduction of the cheap, only a few doors down, things get expensive – very expensive …
Locations: Stone Nullah Tavern, Wan Chai