I am not a lovesick romantic lamenting a special someone. I am not a fisherman mourning the loss of a large catch. This is no fisherman’s tale – this is my true story of the one(s) that got away.
I have spent approximately 0.3% of my life in Hong Kong. Given this experience, I absolutely consider myself a local equipped with the knowledge to give you a breakdown of the nightlife.
Hong Kong is a diverse city with a huge expatriate population. The high population of international people and travelers gives way to a Western nightlife and dining experience, especially in the central districts of Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) and SoHo.
This background is important going back to my true story. My night started and ended in LKF at Bungalow, a club. Bungalow is considered a nicer venue in this densely populated clubbing and bar area. Equipped with a DJ booth, tables, a dance floor, and one spacious bar, Bungalow can charge a pretty penny for (male) entry.
Our group checked out Bungalow around midnight. We decided the scene was too lackluster at this time for our male friends to pay the cover, so we bounced. About an hour later, our search returned us to Bungalow – this was the first of many innocent mistakes.
Everyone in our party was able to enter for free (the cover is normally around 350 HKD or 45 USD). However, this small victory would prove to be overshadowed by a larger loss.
Once in the club for the second time, I was able to get a better grip on Bungalow’s vibe. Compared to other clubs in the area, it has a sizable dance floor. But, for being considered a premiere club, the bouncers were not too selective with entry (exhibit A: me). The club quickly became packed with savages.
By two o’clock in the morning, the club was past capacity – partygoers wall to wall. Our group was just starting to have a good time, as several members took a break at Club Sleven. For those of you unfamiliar, Club Sleven is the biggest life-hack for any Hong Konger.
Club Sleven, or 7/11 (as any novel American would say), is a haven for those partying on a budget. Thanks to Hong Kong’s lack of open container laws and the dense concentration of 7/11s, many partygoers will just buy a beer, bottled mixed drinks, hard liquor, or even gelatin shots from Club Sleven and consume them on the streets of LKF. Before committing your night to one club, it’s always important to ask the bouncer if they will let you re-enter.
After a few more sub-par songs with too many dropped beats, one member of our crew noticed her phone was missing. She immediately started scouring the floor, searching the bathrooms, and contacting staff members.
Minutes later, another member of the squad reported a missing phone. At this point, both victims swore they never let their phone out of their possession. If it wasn’t in their hand taking selfies, it was zipped up in their purses.
Since I was still connected to someone’s Wi-Fi hotspot, I was asked to send out a PSA in our group chat warning of the theft. I swiftly reached for my bag and unzipped the main console. My heart stopped. It’s almost as if Bungalow orchestrated the music as another redundantly dropped beat matched the sinking feeling in my stomach.
My phone was gone. G-O-N-E, gone.
Once I figured out my phone had been misplaced/stolen, my first move was to leave my contact info with one of the bouncers. Problem was, I was all the way at the back of the dance floor. I had to put my game face on and throw more elbows than Draymond Green in Game 4 just to make it across the room.
I politely reported the theft to the bouncer, only to have my concern fall on deaf ears. I was not expecting my phone to be found or even for the bouncer to be able to do anything to help. At least they could have given a sincere apology and offer to take down my contact info. Reasonably, they should have offered me free drinks!
I ended up having to grab a pen from his hand and taking his notepad to write down my email.
Now I’d like to assure you all (mostly my parents), I was in my right mind. I was being responsible with my actions and belongings. My bag was zipped and across my body. Yet, three phones were stolen. Whoever this was—is, frankly, a master.
As this incident put a damper on the night, several of us headed out. We caught a cab back to our hotel. As I reached for my wallet to chip in for the ride, not to anyone’s surprise, all my cash was gone.
In all, I can’t have many regrets. I was being a responsible partier. Unfortunately, I (along with others) fell prey to someone’s rude scheme. The only thing stopping me from getting a “no ragrets” tattoo is my disappointment with Bungalow.
My true story could have been a lot worse. In perspective, I’m glad my cell phone (and cash) was the only thing to get away.
Hannah’s Major Keys for Nightlife in Hong Kong:
- Take the MTR (Hong Kong’s superb version of the metro) to Central before midnight when it closes. You will have to return to your hotel/accommodation by cab or Uber if you are more than a walk away. Many cabbies will not want to take you across the water (to Kowloon) or they will agree to take you across for a hefty fee. My ride from LKF to Kowloon was usually around 80HKD. Cabbies will sometimes ask for upward of 200HKD; turn them down. Make your way to the nearest taxi stand (just ask around for directions; fellow partygoers are always willing to help). Also make sure your cabbie uses the cheaper East tunnel and turns on their meter. (Don’t be afraid to call them out).
- Club Sleven – hit up 7/11 for drinks. You can even use your Octopus card (for MTR travel) to pay.
Avoid Bungalow. I can safely recommend Dragon-I, Play, Levels, and Zentral as alternatives. To be fair, this kind of theft could happen anywhere, but there is a consensus among the group I have been traveling with that it has happened at Bungalow and nowhere else.
- If you want to ball out, grab a bite to eat somewhere in SoHo before hitting the bars and clubs in LKF. SoHo is a 10 minute walk up escalators and moving walkways, as Central is a very hilly area. Take a right down Elgin or Staunton Streets and you will run into many great restaurants.