End of an era : The Excelsior 一個時代的終結
香港怡東酒店座落銅鑼灣海傍超過40年。最近聽說今年3月底將會拆卸， 重建商業大廈。 怡東酒店是英國殖民地遺留下來一個重要地標。隨著時代變遷，它成為金錢世界中另一件犧牲品。以前在香港工作時，年輕又沒負擔，經常會到怡東酒店的中菜廳吃晚飯。那裡彷彿已成為我倆的飯堂。 知道酒店將會拆卸真有點不捨。
The Excelsior Hotel at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong has been around since 1973 and is very representative of the previous British colonial era. The iconic hotel sits by the famous Victoria Harbour and commands a spectacular view. It has many restaurants and bars which are popular with the locals to wine and dine. I used to go there quite often during my young and carefree period when I was working in Hong Kong.
END OF AN ERA FOR THE EXCELSIOR
Last year, The Excelsior announced it would draw its curtains at the end of March this year. The entire building will be redeveloped to make way for new commercial buildings. Another casualty under this cruel money grabbing city.
最近回香港， 約了幾位多年好友聚舊， 大家都提議到怡東酒店Dickens Bar 把酒聊天。 酒吧在怡東酒店地牢，入口處印著酒吧標誌的地墊還在歡迎客人。看來它很快可以功成身退了。 牆上一幅壁畫正代表英式香港的時代，讓我會心微笑。 話說幾百年前 ，中國人第一次見到洋人， 以為自己見鬼，嚇到 大聲喊”鬼!鬼!” 從此”鬼佬” 就變成老外的暱名。 還有鬼婆，鬼妹和鬼仔之分!
When I was back in Hong Kong recently, I met up with some friends at The Excelsior for drinks one last time before they close their doors. We went to the Dickens Bar which is a British gastro pub located in the basement. We used to go through this entrance at the front of the hotel which is now locked. Signs of an early lockdown starting already.
The other entrance is through the hotel lobby. There’s still a hint of Britishness from the poster by the entrance. The Dickens Bar mat at the top of the staircase welcomes customers, but sadly not for much longer.
As I went down the stairs, I smiled as I saw this poster on the wall. Another reminder of the British colonial days. It was said that when foreigners first went to China a few centuries ago, the locals were really scared when they saw white people for the first time in their life. They thought they had seen ghost, so cried out “gwei” in fear. Gwei means ghost in Chinese. The term has stuck around ever since and is now an affectionate name for foreigners. Gwei lo means a white foreign male. You may also hear gwei por which refers to a female, gwei mui for a younger girl and gwei tsai for a young lad.
Dickens Bar 是傳統英式酒吧， 牆壁上掛滿很多七人欖球賽的照片。 國際七人欖球賽是每年三月香港的盛事， 尤其在昔日殖民地年代， 更是老外們定必出席的活動。 到今天還很熱鬧。餐牌上有三瓶紅酒可供選擇， 現在只剩下一瓶有貨。 另外一些小吃也停止供應。 我們點了兩瓶紅酒和三款小吃， 邊吃喝邊聊天。 老朋友聚舊， 總是覺得時間過得特別快。 臨走時在酒吧門口來張合照，紀念這座陪著我們多年的地標。 世界在變，人在長大，唯獨友誼不變。
We had booked a table at the pub because I think many people like us wanted to revisit before they close down. Turns out Sunday evening wasn’t awfully busy but it was still full. Quite a few people had left by the time I took these photos that’s why it looks a bit empty.
Dickens is a sports bar and the Rugby Sevens at the end of March each year is THE sporting event in Hong Kong, particularly for the gwei lo’s. I know some expats whom I used to work with in Hong Kong would still fly back each year for it. It’s like a massive party that starts on Friday evening through to Sunday. Photos of the previous years games adorn the wall behind where we sat.
My friends and I spent some time going through the menu as we were quite hungry by the time we sat down. There were three reds on the menu but only one was still available. They had stopped restocking for obvious reasons.
Even some of the snacks we fancied weren’t available anymore but we managed to order enough nibbles to keep us going for the evening.
I’ve known these friends for years and we used to have another bolt hole called Rick’s Cafe which also closed down years ago. Dickens Bar wasn’t our regular, but The Excelsior has been around all this years, so holds good memories for each of us. The evening wasn’t long enough for us to catch up and soon we had to head off home. We took one last photo before we left Dickens Bar and The Excelsior.
Another iconic building, another era, gone forever.