The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

Ocean Park Unveils Latest Attraction

by Christopher Shay

Hong Kong theme parks are locked in a race to build attractions as they compete for visitors amid rising competition in the region.

The latest splash: A 500-square-meter Amazon exhibit, unveiled by Ocean Park on Tuesday, that features a jungle raft ride, an aviary and live animals, including a now-pregnant anaconda and two capybaras, the world’s largest rodent. In perhaps a gesture meant for competing theme parks, Allan Zeman, chairman of Ocean Park, opened the new attraction, called the Rainforest, wearing Amazon war paint along with a blue headdress and a grass skirt. Read the rest of this entry »

What Saved the Central Market: The Environment

by Christopher Shay

When Central Market opened in 1939, the prewar Bauhaus-style structure housed one of the largest and most modern indoor food marts in Asia. These days, some 70 years later, the largely empty building sits decrepit at the foot of Hong Kong’s Central district escalator system. Only a newly renovated walkway hides the decaying interior from pedestrians. Read the rest of this entry »

Hong Kong’s Waning Influence on the Luxury Car Market

by Christopher Shay

A crowd of shoppers gathered, eagerly snapping photos with their cell phones and cameras at the Hong Kong Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. But it wasn’t a celebrity they were trying capture.

Over the weekend, Mercedes-Benz parked in the middle of the pier a cherry-red and white 1934 500K Special Roadster, one of only 29 models ever built. Sports Car Market, an automobile-collecting magazine, described the classic car as “sexy, slinky, the Jean Harlow of 1930s motor cars.” In 2001, a 500K Special Roadster sold at auction in Florida for nearly $3 million. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Electric Cars Aren’t Selling

by Christopher Shay

Hong Kong had its worst-ever year in terms of roadside pollution in 2010, according to government data. It also hosts the world’s highest traffic density, says the Clear the Air, a local antipollution organization. But despite rising concern over roadside pollution levels and a government campaign to get consumers and companies to adopt zero-emissions vehicles, electric cars aren’t yet creating much spark. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marina Life

by Christopher Shay

David Godfrey and his wife, Tracey, used to live in an apartment overlooking Discovery Bay. But years of watching boats from their balcony gave them a longing for life on the water—and in 2008, they moved into the 70-foot-long Strangely Brown, docked in a marina on the Gold Coast. Read the rest of this entry »

The Playboy Bunny Looks to Asia to Multiply

by Christopher Shay / Macau

On the evening of Nov. 20, Scott Flanders, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, was all smiles, and it wasn’t just because there were Playboy bunnies draped on either side of him. Going by the company’s third-quarter results — a loss of $27.4 million was announced earlier this month as the brand’s traditional outlets struggle with online competition — you wouldn’t think he’d be in the celebrating mood. But with this week’s opening of the Playboy Club Macao, Flanders is confident he’s found a place for the iconic company in the digital age. Instead of relying on American men buying magazines and watching cable, the company’s profits will depend on two seemingly unlikely demographics: Asian women and cosmopolitan clubgoers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Taiwan Company That’s Turning News into Cartoons

by Christopher Shay

We’ve all heard the story by now. Fed up with his job as a JetBlue flight attendant, Steven Slater yelled obscenities over the p.a. system, grabbed two beers from the beverage cart, activated the emergency inflatable chute and slid out of his job and into his 15 minutes of fame. But the only people who witnessed it were on the plane. As with other dramatic events that didn’t get captured by a cell phone, all most of us saw on the news was B-roll and old snapshots of Slater.

One Taiwan-based news service is out to change that. Next Media Animation, which launched in September 2009, churns out more than 30 computer-animated dramatizations of news events every day. A few of these, like Next Media’s versions of Slater’s dramatic exit and Lindsay Lohan’s stint in prison, have garnered hundreds of thousands of hits from across the globe. Soon, says Mark Simon, Next Media’s commercial director, “if you don’t have an animation in your news sequence, it’s going to be like not having color photographs in a newspaper.”

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Can China’s Big Shoe Brand Make Tracks in the U.S.?

by Christopher Shay / Portland, Ore.

When Li Ning first came to the American West, he shocked the world by winning six Olympic medals in gymnastics — three of them gold — during the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Prior to 1984, the People’s Republic had never even won an Olympic medal, and Li Ning was China’s undisputed star of the L.A. Games, becoming an instant Chinese sports legend.

This year, Li is back on the West Coast — or rather, his eponymous sportswear company is — setting up its first U.S. retail store in Portland, Ore., not far from the headquarters of archrival Nike. This isn’t the first time China’s biggest shoe company will go toe to toe with Nike, which has aggressively marketed itself in China. But for once, it won’t have home-court advantage. Eyes are on the Portland area, also home to Adidas America and Columbia Sportswear, to see if Li Ning can once again surprise the world by taking on American powerhouses in their own backyard and transform Li Ning into one of China’s first global consumer brands. Read the rest of this entry »

Jetstar Detentions Raise Red Flags for Investors in Vietnam

by Christopher Shay

In most places, a business deal that goes sour can get you fired. In Vietnam, it could cost you your freedom. For decades, Vietnam’s economic growth has been the envy of its developing neighbors in southeast Asia. In the last 20 years, GDP growth has fallen only once below 5%, typically hovering around 8% as the single-party state has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and seen poverty rates drop below that of India, China and the Philippines. Read the rest of this entry »

Macau at 10: Can Asia’s Gambling Industry Continue to Thrive?

by Christopher Shay

When Edmund Ho, Macau’s first chief executive, assumed office on December 20, 1999, the former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong was a very different place. Hong Kong business mogul Stanley Ho had a monopoly on the region’s sleepy gambling industry. The Triads, southern China’s organized crime conglomerates, killed openly in the streets, and the economy was shrinking fast. Read the rest of this entry »