Aislinn: A Nostalgic Walk Down Old Hong Kong



If you are like me (that is, a thirty-something Filipino-Chinese), there is a 90% chance that you are intimately familiar with that shopping-mecca / Christmas-holiday-destination, the land known as Hong Kong.

But besides this, Hong Kong represents an ideal: it’s the land of progress, of modernity. It’s inextricably linked to the Motherland, that vast giant called China.

For me, it is also a land that I call my second home, not because I go there every year, but because my father spent his boyhood years growing up in the streets of Mong Kok.

So it was with great welcome when I learned that Mommy Bernice wanted an “Old Hong Kong” theme.

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Little Aislinn and family in the streets of Hong Kong

Thank you to Little Heartbeat Photography for these amazing photos!

I mostly focused on 90’s Hong Kong, simply because it was the decade that “made my generation”; I was quite the impressionable 10 year-old back in 1997 when Hong Kong was “returned” by the United Kingdom to China.

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Old Hong Kong is actually a mishmash of English and Chinese culture, and this is reflected in its crowded buildings and alleyways. I chose to highlight two things for Aislinn’s stage: a.) a “Hong Kong market stall”, the kind you see in the streets peddling various fruits, drinks, toys, and other wares, and b.) the iconic Hong Kong Tramway.

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Amidst the pandemonium, various Chinese street signs jut out of Aislinn’s stage

Filling up that market stall was both a real pain (and pleasure; I still can’t decide which!). I had to source old fruit boxes as “risers” to display fruits on, eggs, some plastic toys, paper kites, and various other Chinese beverages, candies, and snacks!

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As part of our preparations, the Party Magic team purchased Chinese dried fruits and hung them at the market stall.

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The eternal Haw Flakes stacked on top of other Chinese snacks. Brings back those memories!

Again, in every party, the small details matter as much as the large props. This is no less true for a theme such as Old Hong Kong.

Now if you liked the stage, wait til you see the photo op area:

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In the course of my over-enthusiasm for this theme, I commissioned our workers to create our very own rickshaw. A little bit much, I know, but after seeing this photo, I don’t regret a single peso I spent in building it.

The photo-op is actually composed of three parts: 1.) the rickshaw, 2.) the fruit vendor, and 3.) the outdoor area. The fruit vendor area, in the middle of the scene, contains a small stool where guests can act as “vendors” and sit down on the streets to peddle their wares:

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The outdoor area contains two chairs and a stool where anyone can just sit down, relax, and enjoy a cup of tea:

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Another detail I love about this area are those old Hong Kong street posters (pasted on the steel walls). I had our Party Magic team research authentic HK posters, and together we stuck them on the backdrop:

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Guests were greeted with this scene, as if walking down one of the streets of Hong Kong:

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We made sure to put lamp posts with various iconic street signs:

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The dessert station turned out to be delightful. The main scene is that iconic white tiled wall with red and blue scribbles, framed left and right by warm wood backdrop with red shutters. The central backdrop is fronted by this really awesome red and white bus facade, complete with headlights!

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The dessert table is filled with Chinese goodies: almond cookies, crispy egg waffles, gold coins, and egg tarts! At the front are two mini cakes, one for each of the Amas (grandmothers). Fun fact: mommy Bernice’s mom has the same birthday as Aislinn, while her mother-in-law’s birthday is also just a few days away!

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I have to give props to mommy Bernice for booking Color Play Happy for the activities. They were spot on in theme!

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Kids get familiar with the Chinese mopit and calligraphy in Aislinn’s party

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Another well designed activity was the DIY abacus

I have to admit, I had a blast conceptualizing and executing Aislinn’s party! Thank you mommy Bernice. My only regret was that it took Party Magic so long to get to do this theme. Old Hong Kong as a theme is so deep and multifaceted that one can easily explore other dimensions to it.

The happiest of birthdays to our dear Aislinn!

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Michelle Lao

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By Michelle Lao

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