The Most Ungodly Place at a Godly Hour

Places like these in any city are instantly discovered.
Places like these in any city are instantly discovered.

MOST COSMOPOLITAN CITIES will have this one district, street or area where foreigners – both tourists and the expat or student community – will congregate purely for the sake of drinking. The area may have had some heritage to it, but for the most part, it is now overrun by either globalisation or the party atmosphere. When I was in Singapore, there were many times I would be in Clarke Quay with exchange friends downing pregame before trying to get into a real bar. But I got bored of that scene pretty quickly – you’re there to meet people, after all, and you can’t get decent music (arguably), company and conversation at a nightclub just like you can in a bar.

In Hong Kong, this part of town is called Lan Kwai Fong – or LKF, as the expatriate community quickly came to know it by. Unlike Singapore’s Clarke Quay, where almost no resemblance to its old character remains, there are some parts of Lan Kwai Fong which still bask in the area’s old glory.

Spot the difference.
Spot the difference.

But the only real time you’ll see them is far from the most popular hours – in the bright of day. In this weather, it’s a challenge just getting there, as the gradient of the street populated with these nightclubs is sweat inducing. But you find that even the nightclubs themselves take upon a completely different character depending on the hour – they become the music bars of old charm that I appreciate far more. Add to that some local chains which sell boutique goods at some discount prices, in contrast to the premiums you pay for alcohol in a hotspot of nightlife. The laid back atmosphere means that the usual clientele is replaced by local families on lunches out. I would think that the alcohol would be marginally cheaper at this hour too. That is, of course, if you’re in the mood at this time of day.

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