A creative city where anything’s possible

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city that attracts enterprising individuals from across the globe. Some come to work in banks or financial institutions, while entrepreneurs relish the ease of doing business, low taxes and hyper-connectivity of the place. Others flock to the many international conventions and conferences held annually. Hong Kong is also, of course, an experience-packed getaway for vacationers from across Asia and beyond.


Royce Chan was a key member of the side during the city’s first appearance at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017.
Amanda Wei is a prominent and influential figure in the Hong Kong art scene.
Masahiro Takahashi is one of many Hong Kongers who turn to long distance running at the end of a long working day.
Sarah Bent is an accomplished water-colourist whose work has appeared in domestic and overseas galleries.


Whether here for the long haul or a long weekend, visitors are immediately impressed by Hong Kong’s cloud-busting skyscrapers, its freewheeling business environment and its world-class wining, dining and nightlife. But there’s much more to the city than simply doing deals and cutting loose once contracts have been signed.

Cultured Shocks

Central district’s Hollywood Road and Wyndham Street are lined with galleries and art spaces showcasing works by renowned artists from Hong Kong, mainland China and the world. Amanda Wei moved to the city 15 years ago from Harbin, in northeastern China, to open Amanda Wei Gallery on Wyndham. “Hong Kong’s geography was important,” she says of her decision. “We say that Hong Kong has China behind it and the ocean – the world – in front.”

Ms Wei became interested in art in the 1990s, while studying at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. “It was very inspiring not only for the theory but also to visit galleries, museums, auctions and even the artists themselves,” she says. “To understand how the art world worked.”

Amanda Wei made headlines recently by paying nearly HK$10m for the painting ‘A Lying Woman, Black Stone’

The knowledge Ms Wei gained in Europe has stood her in good stead in Asia. She made headlines recently by paying nearly HK$10m (US$1,274,905) for the painting A Lying Woman, Black Stone by Chinese artist Zhou Chunya, whose creations draw from both western and eastern schools. “His style combines occidental cultural experiences – he studied in Germany – and the Chinese calligraphic tradition,” says the gallery owner. “That combination is not very common in Chinese artists.”

Ms Wei is optimistic about Hong Kong’s artistic future. “If China becomes the largest economy in the world,” she argues, “its art market will become the biggest.” More immediately, she hopes the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative in southern China – designed to more closely integrate cities in the Pearl River Delta region – will be a boon for the local art scene.

“Space is problematic in Hong Kong,” Ms Wei says. “The GBA would open up Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Macao and Zhuhai etc, so Hong Kong artists could have more space to develop.”

Self-taught British artist Sarah Bent first became entranced by Hong Kong’s combination of densely urbanised areas and pristine countryside in 1977, when she arrived to work for Hongkong Bank (now HSBC). Today, Ms Bent is an accomplished water-colourist whose work has appeared in domestic and overseas galleries. “Initially I painted with acrylics and pastels, but then I tried watercolour and I have loved it ever since,” she says. “I love its luminosity and unpredictable nature.”

Hong Kong, Ms Bent says, has magical light. “We are lucky that the sun shines for 75 per cent of the year here, and for most of the day,” she says. “The afternoon light in the autumn is particularly good for still lifes, and I like to set up on the patio where I can get the long shadows that I love.”

I love its luminosity and unpredictable nature.

Sarah Bent,
Hong Kong water colourist

Having lived in the city for more than four decades, Ms Bent says she feels “more like a local” than an expatriate. In 2007, she joined a group of likeminded souls called Artists Abroad. “We are a mixed group of professional artists who live in Hong Kong but who have come here from elsewhere,” Ms Bent says. “We celebrate our 25th anniversary this year, which is quite an achievement in a place that is so transitional.”

Get Physical

Space is limited in Hong Kong, but urban dwellers can find plenty of room to exercise at the end of a busy working day.

Masahiro Takahashi, who worked for a semiconductor company when he moved to Hong Kong in 2001, opts for long-distance running. “I was working every night until late and then going out drinking with colleagues,” he says of his decision to change his lifestyle and get fit. “I wasn't exercising and the food was very good, so I gained weight.”

In Hong Kong, the number of people running marathons is increasing and I think more people are taking care of their health.

Masahiro Takahashi,
Mei Sou Kai Japanese Running Team

At first, Mr Takahashi could not manage to run even for 10 minutes without a break, but he gradually progressed to half-marathons, then full marathons and even to triathlons. “My personal best marathon record so far is three hours and 28 minutes,” he says, proudly.

Mr Takahashi is a member of the Mei Sou Kai Japanese Running Team that includes about three-dozen Japanese expatriates of varying ages. “I am fascinated by the power of Hong Kong's free atmosphere and energy,” he says. “In Hong Kong, the number of people running marathons is increasing and I think more people are taking care of their health.”

Surprisingly for such a congested city, Mr Takahashi says Hong Kong is runner-friendly. “There are public facilities such as parks and playgrounds everywhere,” he says. “The city has a lot of nature, so it is convenient to go to the sea and mountains.”

Royce Chan recalls a misspent youth spent smoking, drinking and playing darts (she dreamed of playing for the Hong Kong team, but says she was too “out of shape” even for that indolent goal). She describes her discovery, two decades ago, of the game of rugby as “a miracle”.

Ms Chan had tried both basketball and football without success before she was introduced to the Hong Kong Rugby Union. “It was really tough for me, really painful,” she says of her first training experience. “I don’t really know what drew me into it.”

Rugby has a tradition in Hong Kong because of the city’s British colonial past, but local fans prefer the seven-a-side game.

With time, Ms Chan became a fixture of the Hong Kong rugby team, playing mostly as hooker through the years. After the city’s first appearance at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, in 2017, she was described in the South China Morning Post newspaper as “the backbone” of the side and voted Player of the Tournament by her teammates. “The girls at the club really engaged me,” Ms Chan says.

Rugby has a tradition in Hong Kong because of the city’s British colonial past, but local fans prefer the seven-a-side game – due to its speed – over the 15-a-side format that Ms Chan has mostly played. The annual Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament, held every March/April, is a premier social event circled on the calendar of many rugby fans around the world.

Ms Chan expects the men’s rugby World Cup, to be held in Japan from September 20, will boost the sport’s popularity in the region. “I think it’s going to be really big in Asia.”