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Hop 'til you drop in Hong Kong

Detail of painting by Andrew Chan


The handover's over, the fun's just begun and the price is right. Here's the best of what's in store
By SHIRLEY BRADY

If you didn't make it to Hong Kong last year to take in all the handover hooplah, here's what you missed: too much rain and too many people. You'll be missing more if you don't visit this year, as the city on the South China Sea gears up for more action than even Jackie or Jet could handle.

Culture vultures and arts lovers should book early for the Festival of Asian Arts, Oct. 23-Nov. 14. This year's roster features more than 35 acts from 11 countries. Highlights include local wunderkind Helen Huang, a 15-year-old pianist who made her recording debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 13; "Dragon Bond Rite," mixing dance, theater and musical traditions from around the region; and "Echoes of the Silk Road," two concerts staged by Chinese and Japanese musicians using reconstructed instruments that are more than 1,000 years old. Tickets are $7-$45 (half-price for seniors and students) and are available through Urbtix at 852-2734-9009.

The Silk Road also features prominently in a landmark exhibition at the University of Hong Kong until Dec. 15. "In the Footsteps of the Buddha" traces the history of Buddhist art throughout Asia, bringing together for the first time important works from around the world. The show is closed Sundays, and admission to both the University Museum and the Art Gallery is free. Call 852-2975-5600 for more information.

Other arty happenings include "Heavenly Creations: Gems of Ancient Chinese Inventions" at the Hong Kong Museum of History (until Jan. 3), and the 12th Contemporary Hong Kong Art Biennial at the Hong Kong Museum of Art (until Oct. 11), which also presents the Asian debut of "Egyptian Treasures from the British Museum" (Nov. 3-Jan. 17), including a feline mummy. Alternative fare can be found at the Hong Kong Arts Center in Wanchai, which offers films, theater, exhibits and a good restaurant, as well as at the Fringe Club, a gallery/stage/bar in Central.

Hong Kong might well score a major first for the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which begins Jan. 16. The Shanghai Kunju Opera Troupe is wooing Shanghai officials for permission to stage the world premiere of the troupe's version of The Peony Pavilion, which the culture czars ordered yanked from New York's Lincoln Center in July. The Hamburg Ballet and the Kirov Orchestra are confirmed. (Bookings from Oct. 10; tel. 852-2824-3555).

The Autumn Fun Festival brings the British noisemakers Stomp to the APA Lyric Theater (Oct. 13-25); tickets are $38-$64 from Urbtix. Kids will love the Russian production of Sleeping Beauty on Ice (Nov. 3-8), while big kids may find Italian comedian Ennio Marchetto (Nov. 30-Dec. 5) more their speed. Get program details on the Fun Fest hotline, at 852-2805-2804. A series of Sunday carnivals takes over Tamar, the harborfront site of Britain's soggy farewell, from Oct. 11 to Nov. 29; get details from the Hong Kong Tourist Association (www.hkta.org).

Two big-ticket charity concerts are on tap for this fall. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra presents "A Gift of Music" Oct. 11 and 12, with proceeds going to the Hong Kong Red Cross (tickets $6-$130 from Urbtix); tenor Jose Carreras performs with Canto-pop star Andy Lau and others on Oct. 17 for food aid to North Korea (tickets cost $64-$645; call 852-2805-2804).

Once you've broadened your mind, enlarge your waistline with the belt-boggling array of food, glorious food, in a city that boasts one restaurant for every 650 residents. A United Nations of the palate is represented in the Soho area (hop off the Mid-Levels Escalator after Hollywood Road and follow your nose) and in Lan Kwai Fong. And be sure to sample the spectacular scenery and array of eateries on the Peak, in Stanley or on outlying islands like Lamma. HK Magazine, a free weekly, gives a good overview of what's hot on the cuisine scene. Try the Bruce Lee Cafe, a restaurant/museum that opened on Robinson Road this past summer to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the passing of Hong Kong's original action hero. All in all, Hong Kong is ready for action: it hasn't been this cheap in ages, the weather's great this time of year and the locals are learning that service pays.

R E L A T E D   L I N K S :

Hong Kong Interactive Visitors' Map:
  http://www.lic.gov.hk/cmestdir/
Hong Kong Calling:
  http://www.hongkongcalling.com/
The Corner: Hong Kong City Guide:
  http://cityguide.hongkong.com/
Hong Kong Web Connection:
  http://www.webhk.com/
Hong Kong Observatory (weather):
  http://www.info.gov.hk/hko/contente.htm
Hong Kong Government Information Centre:
  http://info.gov.hk/
Hong Kong International Airport:
  http://www.hkairport.com/
Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway Corporation:
  http://www.mtrcorp.com/
The South China Morning Post newspaper:
  http://www.scmp.com/




Daily

October 12, 1998

MAIN FEATURE
Hong Kong City Guide: The handover's over, the fun's just begun and the price is right. Here's the best of what's in store

KITSCH REPORT
Hong Kong is coming to resemble another big Chinese city: Shanghai. Or Shanghai during its 1930s heyday, to be precise

HOT TIP
Step beyond the bustle of Central and the concrete of Kowloon by seeking out Hong Kong's green spaces

WEB CR@WLING
The HKTA's website has won many awards, and for good reason

SHORT CUTS
Hong Kong tourism officials are cheered by recent surveys showing the City of Life is rebounding as a business travel destination

DETOURS
If you think the markets have been scary, wait until you set foot in Igor's



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