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As Pacific Place celebrates its 30th birthday, we ask Hongkongers to reflect on their childhoods in Hong Kong and how the city has grown and changed with them.

Victoria Tang-Owen, Creative Director. Image courtesy of Victoria Tang-Owen

Victoria Tang-Owen, Shanghai Tang Creative Director

My earliest memories are of playing games with my brother Edward. We loved to dress up, play music and eat traditional Cantonese food. We lived in various places, from the Peak to Mid-Levels and, for a time, even at the China Club. My favourite times were spent out of the city at my parents’ old home in Sai Kung. They loved to host lunch and dinner parties, so there were always guests coming in and out, and kids and dogs were most definitely welcome. There was a big lawn, a swimming pool and a beautiful view out to sea.

We used to go on cinema trips to Pacific Place, and I remember lots of friends hosting birthday parties there. I’ve always had a passion for paper, stationery and art supplies, and I have this funny memory from when I was very young insisting to my mother that we spend hours in a stationery shop in Pacific Place when she just wanted to be shopping upstairs somewhere more glamorous!

Repulse Bay, 1991. Image by Russell Watkins/Flickr

I remember the opening of Pacific Place. It was a game changer for our family. Before that, my mum used to love going to one mall in particular, so much so that my father joked that she should apply for a security guard position there as she just walked around it all day long. When Pacific Place opened, it was a breath of fresh air for the family. My father loved exploring new places, and he often took us there on the weekends. I remember going for ramen in the food court and to the oh-so-cool Muji store. It’s interesting that Muji has reopened in Pacific Place recently, eliciting so much nostalgia for me.

I studied overseas — in Canada, the US and the UK — from the age of 13, but I knew I’d return to Hong Kong. I wanted to be close to my family. I also missed the convenience, efficiency and the ease of getting things done, not to mention the food — London’s food scene hadn’t yet flourished when I was there.

I now spend as much of my free time as I can with my baby boy Anthony. I used to be a city girl, but since having Anthony, I appreciate nature more and want to expose him to as much of it as possible. Hong Kong makes that very easy because we can get to a beach on the south side from the city so conveniently, and if my husband feels like taking Anthony for a hike, he walks up the Morning Trail to The Peak.

I love Hong Kong most for giving me such fond childhood memories.

China Club dining room. Image courtesy of China Club

I studied photography and graphic design at Central Saint Martins, and loved my time in London. I worked at fashion brand Issa and travelled a lot as a freelance fashion and portrait photographer; I shot for magazines like V Magazine, L’Uomo Vogue and Vogue Hommes Japan. Meeting fascinating and sometimes controversial subjects was exciting, but Hong Kong felt like home and opportunities were opening up for me here — including working with my father on lifestyle concept brand TangTangTangTang.

Hong Kong feels bigger and busier than when I was growing up here, but the soul of the city, the harbour lights and the buzzing social scene is much the same. Maybe we’ve lost a little of the old-school glamour I remember from my parents — we’re more casual as a society today.

I’ve been in and around the Hong Kong creative scene since I was very young. My father was a huge supporter of artists, musicians and other creatives from Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, so I know the talent and interest has always been there. But Hong Kong made its name as a commercial city, not a creative city, so it’s a challenge for people to put creativity at the top of the agenda.

These days I spend my spare time in Hong Kong with my son Rocco (邓艺) and my husband. Rocco has a beautiful smile and a laugh that melts my heart. We love to take him to the park to ride his scooter and check out exhibitions at the galleries in Pedder Building and H Queen’s.

Hong Kong has been good to me, and I’m proud to be from the city. Wherever you travel in the world, people think highly of Hong Kong, and if you run into someone from Hong Kong when you’re abroad there’s always a happy connection. Hong Kong is like a big family — sometimes families have arguments, but in the end the love runs deep.

Ruth Chao, Designer. Image courtesy of Ruth Chao

Ruth Chao, Founder & Creative Director, Ruth Chao Studio

I always remember Hong Kong as a beautiful place. It’s the perfect balance between city and countryside because you can travel for mere minutes and find yourself on a mountaintop or by the sea. I think it’s one of the greatest things about this city — while you have the convenience of city life, you also have the tranquillity of nature.

One of my family’s traditions is Sunday dim sum. We’ve always spent our Sunday lunchtime together. I think food is something that unites people, and there’s just such a surplus of great food here in Hong Kong. My whole family gets together every Sunday — sometimes we try something new, sometimes we revisit old favourites — but dim sum is always the theme.

Over the years, Hong Kong has changed a lot. When I was young, we used to go to galleries and museums overseas, but rarely in Hong Kong. Lately, there have been many more cultural happenings here, with Art Basel, the West Kowloon Cultural District and Tai Kwun. I love that there are more art galleries and events in the city. It provides fuel and inspiration, and encourages dreamers and seekers to find their way.

Pacific Place pre-renovation. Image by Roger Price/Wikimedia Commons

Looking back, Pacific Place has been one of the constants in my life. We always went there to see movies as kids. I remember the cinema and the atrium well — the sky-high ceilings always filled the place with light. Later, I remember the remodelling and the new design. With its curves and tranquil zen feeling, it all flows so well together.

I went to university in the UK, but I always knew I’d come back because my grandma was here and I was really close to her. One of my fondest memories is going to the park with her to feed the ducks. I don’t remember exactly where it was — I was too young — but I’d always be the one to carry a full loaf of bread; I just loved feeding the ducks.

These days, I take my puppy out into nature. He’s a Jack Russell and his name is Clover. He loves going out, splashing in waves by the sea or jumping around in the mountains.

There’s something about the Hong Kong cityscape. Every time I see our harbour it still moves me — the lights, the people; I think Hong Kong is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s my home and I love it.

ChauKei Ngai, Yoga Teacher. Image courtesy of ChauKei Ngai

ChauKei Ngai, Yoga Teacher

My earliest memories of growing up in Hong Kong are of going to the beach and digging for clams, and of visiting my parents’ friends’ village houses and playing with firecrackers. Among my favourite things to do, but which doesn’t exist anymore, was visiting the Lai Yuen amusement park. I used to love the game where you’d throw a dollar coin within the tiles to win a pack of Doublemint chewing gum. There was also an old-school Ferris wheel. Today there’s a new and different kind of wheel — the Observation Wheel on the Central Harbourfront.

I used to love Hong Kong’s individual street food carts, where I could have a wide variety of choices. One of my favourite foods was waffles with peanut butter and white sugar sprinkled on top. You can still find it today, though I haven’t had it in a long time as I try to avoid white sugar. I don’t mind eating it once in a while, though, and reminiscing on it now has reminded me that I must take my son to try the snack one day.

Lai Yuen Amusement Park. Image by Simon Lee

I love that people in Hong Kong draw on Eastern and Western cultures, and I think that makes us very unique. As Hongkongers, we also know how important it is to take care of our parents, which is paramount and is something that hasn’t changed over the years.

I was born in Hong Kong. I went to university in Canada and travelled for about two years after graduating, then moved to the US and came back to Hong Kong about five years ago. I feel that Hong Kong always has a place in my heart, and that’s what made me want to return to the city. I’m very happy that I made the decision to come back.

When I’m away from Hong Kong, I miss the street food. Luckily, when I lived in Vancouver and in Toronto I could still enjoy really good local-style food. Now that I’m back, I like to go out and try different restaurants, which is something I didn’t do when I was a kid. I also like to go hiking in my free time. There are so many places to go in the city and so much to do. There’s always something going on in Hong Kong — it’s a vibrant and dynamic place.

Nancy Fung, founder, Signature Communications. Image courtesy of Nancy Fung

Nancy Fung, founder, Signature Communications

My sister and I grew up in Hong Kong. My family loved spending weekends on a boat, whether in summer or winter. In the summer, we’d swim and enjoy the beautiful weather, whereas in the winter, the adults would play mah-jong and the kids would sing karaoke. Regardless of the season, a seafood meal on Lamma Island was always a must.

I always remember the excitement of a Typhoon 8 signal. My father would take us for mini staycations. It was his excuse to check out all the new hotels but also to not have to worry about food and safety for the family. Typhoons nowadays definitely feel less magical!

Winters in Hong Kong are not as cold as they used to be. As a kid, I always knew Chinese New Year was around the corner when I got to wear my traditional Chinese silk padded jacket (棉衲). The cold weather and that jacket felt very festive, and had me looking forward to all the sweet treats and red packets that Chinese New Year brought. I hope my son will have the opportunity to wear that type of jacket over Chinese New Year and experience the excitement and anticipation that I felt as a child.