The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

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

Nunhead Gardener

The Entrepreneurs

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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