Synopsis: Anthony Bourdain visits Hong Kong, a city experiencing sweeping changes as mainland China’s grip on political life tightens. There he is accompanied by Christopher Doyle—renowned cinematographer, Wong Kar-wai collaborator, and the city’s adopted enfant terrible. Bourdain tries to make sense of the opposing yet complementary elements that make Hong Kong a multicultural destination that has “always embraced change.”

On the disappearance of old Hong Kong:

  • “The love of money and shiny new things is slowly but surely erasing the past.”
  • “All this is disappearing, all this could be gone. It’s vanishing before our eyes.”
  • “To feel sentimental about the past is unusual for Hong Kong. Hong Kong is always changing, it’s always embraced change.”

May Chow: “As we’re getting older, we’re starting to actually enjoy our own culture. You want to create something new that represents the city as it is today.”

On Hong Kong’s street food:

  • “Cheap delicious food served from open-air stalls. Pull up a plastic stool. Crack a beer. Fire up the wok.”
  • “I’m told there are two, maybe three people left in all of Hong Kong making bamboo noodles the old-school way.”

On Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions:

  • “While many locals avoid it for its reputation and for some of its less legitimate business enterprises, it offers cheap rooms and asylum for people, specifically refugees, from all around the world … and even a taste of home.”
  • “Many here are stuck in limbo. Can’t go back, can’t work, can’t leave.”

Jenny Suen: “There is something that I think binds us all together, which is we are trying to reinterpret Hong Kong culture in a way that makes sense to us.”

Sidekicks weigh in:

  • Doyle: “The only function of what we do, of art, or of anything is to be a voice to the unspoken. To give it a form that it’s never been perceived in before. We can’t change the evolution of history or gentrification—you can’t stop them—but at least you can say ‘Look at what you’re losing.’”
  • Simon Go: “In these past few years so much has disappeared because of urban development. I think I’ve got a mission to preserve that.”
  • Janice Lau (of the band David Boring, on what is disappearing from city): “Certainly a degree of freedom. As someone who was born and raised here, you can definitely feel a change within the past five or 10 years. What we are trying to do with our music is address that.”

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  • John (migrant from Iran): “They tell me that even if you are accepted as a refugee, you are not welcome to stay. You have to be settled in another country. They’re telling me that while you are staying, you are not allowed to work, study, volunteer, or contribute to society in any way.”
    Lau: “It is important to be part of the system to make any changes at all. If you stay on the fringe, it is very hard to get people to listen to you.”
  • Thierry Chow: “When you’re in a restaurant, when you’re eating the food, the space matters. It changes the way you taste the food.”

Christopher Doyle: “To me, the energy is the noise.”

  • Douglas Young (founder of Goods of Desire): “Hong Kong is always going through change and nothing is precious. If something is old, it’s torn down, thrown away, destroyed. That’s Hong Kong!”
  • Young: “The government wants to present an image that is modern and Western, so ‘We’ve gotta clean ourselves and remove the messy street people.’”