Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Christmas Eve. I have been to the gym and now I want to go out and photograph Christmas as I find it in the local streets.

I am back.

How was it?

Well to be honest a bit of a disappointment.

Why is that?

Well I couldn’t find it.

Find what?


If I were to venture into the bright lights of Causeway Bay, Central, or heaven forfend Tsim Sha Tsui (The Dark Side), I would find Christmas. But they are at least 15 minutes away on the MTR. They are the temples to capitalism, where taking money from the rich to give to other rich people is what redistribution of wealth really means. This is the true meaning of Christmas in HK. Since we moved to be closer to the grandchildren we have deserted the bright lights and gone local. This is an area where foreign devils are not welcome and English is not widely spoken. Not unlike Liverpool, I suppose. The walk covered three districts and took me barely an hour. I walked the main street and lots of side streets in search of Christmas. I must admit I have never really noticed before but today I was looking and not finding.

Eventually I found a man wearing a Santa Claus hat. I took his photo. He saw me and I called across to him: I’m looking for Christmas. He laughed. Not around here he said. They are all boring. He was outside an Indian restaurant and turned out to be the owner. He is Sri Lankan by birth but has been in HK 50 years. I’m 74 he said. I have two restaurants and my family will carry on after me. His staff are Nepali. An Indian restaurant run by Sri Lankans and Nepalis. We chatted for ages and I promised I will go and eat there soon.

After that I found a rather sad plastic Christmas tree for sale outside a hardware store, some baubles on a cafe door and a few stickers including two large Nutcracker figures. And buried inside the local market was some tinsel. Strands strewn across the ceiling.The entire concession to Christmas in the market. Nobody took any notice. I suspect they were antique and possibly subject to a heritage preservation order. As I photographed the baubles the cafe owner came out and peered at me. She saw that I was a foreign devil, rolled her eyes and went back in. The security woman in the market ignored me. The hardware store will probably be trying to sell the small plastic tree again next year. I doubt if there will be a rush even if it goes on sale.

Now I think about it I also missed hearing Christmas music. No carols, no Slade or Wizard, no Oratorios, not even Bing Crosby dreaming of a white Christmas. As I look out of my study window the sky is red and grey. Visibility is very poor and I suspect Santa’s sleigh will miss us again this year. Couldn’t find you for the smog, he’ll say later. Or perhaps the reindeer have been slaughtered, Rudolph’s gralloch smeared across the Lapland ice. Well I couldn’t get to the supermarket, said Santa. A man has to eat and I have 500 elves to feed. Christmas cancelled. No turkey this year, just venison. My suggestion, Santa, for what it is worth, is to nip round to the Ashoka Indian Restaurant on Shau Kei Wan Road. I know a man with a hat just like yours. Spare the reindeer, cheer up the locals and give them a hearty Ho Ho Ho. Show them the joy of Christmas. But don’t be surprised if they aren’t impressed. Now what is the Cantonese for Bah, humbug?

Christmas hat

20 thoughts on “Walking in a Winter Wonderland

  1. I am not surprised that you did not find much Christmasy about your neck of the HK woods. Maybe it’s just the negative stories coming from there but I get the feeling that such religious expression isn’t very popular…at least not currently I hope that you are able to correct me on that.

    • No expression is welcome any more Steve unless it mirrors the party line. Christmas isn’t about religion here it’s about how much can you sell. But the locals will wait for the lunar new year.

  2. This made me laugh: “This is an area where foreign devils are not welcome and English is not widely spoken. Not unlike Liverpool, I suppose.” After reading this, I was tempted to repost this for Christmas day. In the end, I decided against it, but maybe next year.

    The ‘next year’ almost is here. I hope it’s a good one for us all. I’m glad you’re posting again; I always enjoy your insights and photos.

    • You should have reposted it. It’s wonderful and k d Lang has a fantastic voice. You should share your post each year. Thanks for the encouragement. I shall try to write more regularly but I find time goes so fast and good intentions are worth little. Happy new year.

  3. Sorry about that but remember that Christmas is in the heart. Wishing you and yours hearts filled with Christmas love and blessings. Here are a few to start you off. ❤️❤️❤️❤️🎄🎄🎄🎄


  4. Aw. This is kinda sad! I hope you and Mrs HA are tucked in with Bing crooning to you. you make me curious though. Does your new neighborhood get festive at different times of year, to celebrate native gods?

    • Yes it does. The lunar new year is big of course but also Mid Autumn Festival. And the winter solstice is very important as a family time but without the trimmings etc. It’s just a different culture.

      • It sounds like a healthier culture, more tied to the rhythms of the earth and less to material trimmings.

  5. Andrew, I suggest you dont watch/listen to the cricket on boxing day or your gloom will intensify! After all that we hope you enjoy the Christmas period and that theNew Year brings a happier and healthier year

  6. Subdued seasonal atmosphere in NT north, too. Perhaps I’m surrounded by closet Scots and they’re waiting for hogmanay…

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