Wednesday, May 21, 2014


You know you’ve just flown in from Hong Kong when it’s 85ºF and it feels nice and cool.

Chicago, I’m home for a week. Then it’s off to New York. Using this time to visit my parents, power through jet lag, and catch up on things from the past couple weeks, e.g., watch the Interstellar trailer ten times in a row, half of which I pretend it’s a sequel to Contact.

Victoria Harbour as seen from Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.
My highlights from the second annual Art Basel Hong Kong, as well as other photos I took throughout my trip, can be viewed here on Instagram.

Rebecca Baumann, Automated Colour Field,
Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.

Hong Kong, of course, was and is so much more than Basel. This is, after all, where my roots lie.

Hong Kong, the city that gives new meaning to the phrase
"urban jungle."

My family’s history mirrors that of Hong Kong: My grandparents were refugees from the Mainland, escaping the Communists in 1949. When their squatter hut burned down in the shantytown fire of 1953, which left over 50,000 people homeless, they resettled in the Shek Kip Mei public housing projects, Hong Kong’s first public housing estate and where my dad and his three younger brothers were born and raised (I wrote about what life was like there in this post). My dad—while still a kid from the hood—got into and graduated from the University of Hong Kong (and later immigrated to the United States and earned a master’s at the University of Chicago). And now the sole American-born child of the Lam clan, with a not-bad track record of her own, receives invitations to return to her motherland every year and attend the world’s premier Modern and contemporary art event as a VIP. Cue “Circle of Life.” (And me holding up this puppy to an enraptured audience of Serengeti animals?)

Spent my last full day in Hong Kong relaxing here, by the sea,
with my grandma. What a long way the Lamily has come.

Whether it’s visiting the Mei Ho House, the last remaining—and newly “revitalized”—building of the Shek Kip Mei slums (I asked my uncles to bring the only photos they have from their childhood for comparisons); or imbibing free bottomless booze at a sweaty party in a parking garage in the industrial district of Chai Wan on the outskirts of the city with friends old and new while dancing to a live Chinese rock band (whose female lead singer, who wore Pink Floyd tights, we gave sips from a bottle of vodka we may or may not have taken from the bar) and, before that, watching dancers follow a set of instructions that included, among many other things, screaming audience members’ names, hiding in boxes, doing a routine to a Rihanna and Beyoncé medley, and fisting themselves in their mouths; or looking at art…

I love this place. 

Have a great week, everyone.


  1. It's great that you have so much going on in your relationship with Hong Kong and that you're making the most of it. Thanks so much for sharing, Jenny. :-)

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Belinda!

  2. Wow, an amazing read. You really made Hong Kong real. I enjoyed your family's story. So very inspirational. I am mostly familiar with HK film so your artistic interpretations are very refreshing. When will you be showing your work in NYC?

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! So glad you enjoyed reading and that you were inspired. Ah, HK film is excellent; Wong Kar Wai is one of my favorite directors, and I'll never get tired of classic kung fu and gangster movies.

      I'll actually be in NYC for my college reunion (last weekend of May going into June), but I'll definitely be checking out as much art as I can.

  3. Interesting read, Jenny! Thanks for sharing the story with us! I saw your comment on a LinkedIn group about Hong Kong.
    I've been living in Hong Kong for 5yrs since college. I LOVE this city. Love the convenience, love the multi-cultural society, love each story behind the name of the street.

    1. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Allen! Glad you feel the same way as I do about HK! Truly one of the best cities in the world.


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