The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 3 October 2016

Image: Getty Images

Hot off the press

Hong Kong’s English-speaking community is mourning the demise of much-loved media title HK Magazine amid fresh concerns about press freedom. This Friday’s copy will be the last issue following a surprise decision by owners South China Morning Post (SCMP) to shutter the 25-year-old lifestyle publication citing challenging market conditions. The much-loved weekly print title is known for its witty writing and satirical social commentary. Often critical of both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, it provided valuable English-language coverage of the Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests in 2014 (pictured). HK Magazine is the second shutdown at SCMP in September after the equally sudden closure of its Chinese-language website. Both announcements come less than a year after Alibaba acquired SCMP’s parent company and raise fresh concerns about the editorial independence of the 112-year-old newspaper.

Image: Getty Images

Flights of fancy?

It’s become depressingly commonplace for airlines to introduce charges for everyday services: from increased baggage fees to charging for seat selection, taking a simple flight can be an exercise in reading the small print. So the news that British Airways is joining the likes of budget airlines Ryanair and easyJet – charging for meals on its economy flights to Europe – is disappointing but not all that surprising. The airline has announced a partnership with Marks & Spencer that will see the complimentary meals offered on flights of less than five hours eliminated and replaced with for-purchase sandwiches and snacks. While paying for food on shorter flights isn’t the end of the world, we’re hoping that this move towards budget-airline charges doesn’t precede a move towards budget-airline service.

Image: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

Setting up shop

Where tacky souvenir shops once reigned, a high-class retailer has now landed: the OMA-designed DFS department store T Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Its home, the 13th-century palazzo at the foot of the Rialto Bridge, has assumed various roles in its time, acting as a trading post for German merchants, a customs house in Napoleonic times and a post office in the fascist era. Its latest use plays up to Venice’s mercantile history. This sensitive multimillion-euro rethink will bring brands such as Fendi, Valentino and Bulgari to the 17th-outpost of the Hong Kong-based retailer. Counterbalancing the commercial nature of the project, the overhaul will also open up some spaces to the public, including the courtyard piazza and a brand-new terrace for unsurprisingly spectacular views of the canals.

Image: Christopher Wise

The way we move

Modes of transport are telling of a nation’s DNA: where would the Dutch be without their bikes or Americans without their cars and Venetians without their vaporetti? This week Thailand’s Tourism Authority released “A Touch of Thai Vehicles” – a guide to commuting like a true Thai. The handbook includes eight itineraries for four of the country’s provinces, taking visitors off the beaten track and introducing a delectable range of places to eat, drink and see. Tuk-tuks are a must for weaving in and out of Bangkok’s dense city traffic and so are long-tail boats for traversing Krabi’s scattered islands; the rot-ma (horse carriage taxis) in Lampang may be gimmicky reminders of times past but if you hop into a rot-si daeng (truck taxi) you’ll fit right in.

From Monocle 24

Eureka #17: Kurt Zdesar

This week we hear the story of restaurateur Kurt Zdesar. Australian-born Zdesar kicked off his culinary career with stints at McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken but was soon overseeing Nobu’s first European location in London, which received a Michelin star within 10 months. He’s brought all-day dim sum to London with his popular Ping Pong brand, launched Black Roe in Mayfair, his restaurant Chotto Matte is going international and he’s just opened a new Italian joint called Fucina. Zdesar shares his inspiration.

From Monocle Films

Entrepreneurs: Nunhead Gardener

Monocle Films heads to the leafy suburbs of southeast London, where entrepreneurs Peter Milne and Alex Beltran have given up their corporate jobs to set up a charming garden centre.

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