“There be those who say things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not;
I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of the street.”–H.P. Lovecraft
William Banzai7 here–your best friend in Hong Kong!
Kindly allow me share with you the best way to experience all facets of this truly magnificent city, culturally, historically and visually, just as a local does, so that when we are finished, you will be able to confidently and knowledgeably relate the modern story of Hong Kong as an inquisitive and well informed cultural traveler —
I’M AN AMERICAN, A HONG KONG CULTURAL TOUR SPECIALIST AND
I HAVE LIVED AS A LOCAL IN OLD KOWLOON FOR MORE THAN 13 YEARS.
I am also a retired international lawyer with strong Asian connections and I have reinvented myself as a professional satire artist and urban street photographer in addition to a street savy Hong Kong cultural tour guide. I have literally spent thousands of hours walking the streets of Hong Kong and Kowloon camera in hand, searching for all manner of intriguing people, local points of interest, eateries and the wonders of cantonese street culture in all of its manifestations. In my preparations to serve as your first class cultural tour guide, I have logged hundreds of hours engaging in cultural and historic research of pre-colonial, colonial and modern day Hong Kong. I pride myself in being a keen social observer, an exceptional communicator, an artist/entertainer, a lover of good food and a culturally intelligent human being.
Half of my family is Asian (a combination of Japanese, Thai, Hong Kong and Macau Chinese) and I have also lived and/or worked in the following world cities: New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Bangkok, Warsaw, London, Singapore and Shanghai.
So, for example, when I make an observation about something in a local temple in Hong Kong, I am in a position to bring cultural context. I have been in temples all around Asia. When I show you a statue of Kwun Yum, the Goddess of Mercy, I can tell you how and why she is widely revered in Hong Kong, Macau, China, Thailand, Singapore and Japan. And I know what my Mom said about her when I was a kid. When I talk about the opium wars, South China pirates, triad organisations, Chinese folk religion and local food, I am able to similarly bring my background and experience to bear.
Trust me, I have plenty of worldly observations and stories to share with each and every one of you.
My street photography and political artwork has racked up millions of views on the internet (252+ MILLION in the last two years on FLICKR). So I know a thing or two about taking interesting photographs and framing good shots on tour. And BTW, all of the artwork on this website is by yours truly.
And I am happy to share all of my camera tricks with you!
You can view all of my 16,000+ Flickr photographs and other images here: MY FLICKR STREAM
I was raised cross culturally as a youngster in New York City and Japan and now I live cross culturally as a local in one of the oldest Chinese neighbourhoods of Old British Kowloon for over 12 years and still running (and walking)! The last of the Song Dynasty emperors, a young boy, literally hid from the Kublai Khan just around the corner from where I live. He features prominently in my Kowloon walking tours!
My first visits to Hong Kong were as a youngster in the 1970s when my Dad had an office near the Peninsula Hotel. I fell in love with Hong Kong immediately and now, after living and working all around the globe, I rediscovered this truly fascinating and wonderful place to live. Hong Kong left a deep impression on young William Banzai!
Sadly, much has disappeared since the old days and much continues to disappear in the unrelenting march of modernism, globalisation and urban redevelopment. I know precisely where to find disappearing Hong Kong and I am eager to share my secrets with you before it all disappears forever. I have watched the alley houses disappearing in Shanghai, I have watched the hutongs disappearing in Beijing and now I am watching the old Chinese neighbourhoods of Hong Kong falling to the developer’s wrecking ball. I will show you the meaning of the distinctly local expressions: “the politics of disappearance” and “borrowed place, borrowed time”.
If you are reading this you are are most certainly no run of the mill tourist.
You are a curious and thoughtful world traveler.
Having traveled the globe all my life, I know precisely what you are seeking. You are not visiting Hong Kong to collect picture post cards and souvenir jewellery whilst circling past heritage simulations and high end shopping malls on a tour bus. You are coming here for a truly unique, memorable, informative yet entertaining cultural experience. I am just the person to deliver that unique cultural experience to you and the detailed reviews written by my valued clients on Trip Advisor since I began my listing last September are a solid testimonial to this fact. I strongly encourage you to read them.
My clients are by no means ordinary, they most certainly were not treated as such by me and neither will you!
Furthermore, following hundreds of hours of primary research, scouting and navigating my clients though the urban street culture of Hong Kong, I have developed a my own unique Hong Kong cultural and historical framework which I make a point of passing along to each and every one of you during all of my Hong Kong cultural walking tours. I want you to not only to remember what you have seen, heard, tasted and smelled on the streets, I want you to be able to confidently relate how it all fits together following your return home, both conceptually and as a truly unique and memorable cultural learning experience. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I will make sure you know all of the words that go with all the pictures!
At the end of our tour, as your best friend in Hong Kong, I will be happy to share all of my local know how to ensure that you are in well positioned to maximise the remainder of your visit to this wonderful city also known as “The Pearl of the Orient.”
Take a look at some of my Hong Kong and Kowloon images on my Trip Advisor page and see what I mean and while you are at check out the happy campers on tour: Streets of Hong Kong (Trip Advisor)
See what my clients have been saying in their ***** reviews since I began my listing on Trip Advisor September, 2015
I am extremely proud of the thoughtful comments left by my clients in their Trip Advisor reviews of my bespoke Hong Kong cultural walking tours
and it goes without saying I am also very proud of these…
Important: I do not offer large group tours pairing strangers. My bespoke Hong Kong cultural tours are strictly private and tailored to meet the objectives and wishes set by one person, you! If you have no specific parameters other than deliver a unique cultural experience, then just leave it all to me. I have my own well tested plans ready to be improvised for you. Either way, you are going to get a unique and comprehensive picture of the street culture of old and new Hong Kong, literally and figuratively.
I do not employ any other guides. So all of Banzai7 Hong Kong cultural walking tours are delivered and executed by one person, yours truly!
I currently offer these basic Hong Kong cultural tour configurations which are ready to be adapted to your requests.
BESPOKE HONG KONG CULTURAL TOURS
If you are looking for a cultural walking tour of Hong Kong specifically tailored to the interests of you and the members of your family/party, this is the tour for you.
I will make sure you will see a memorable mix of iconic Hong Kong points of interest as well as plenty of local points far off the typical touristic beaten path. You can count on plenty of local culture and street life. You can also expect a smattering of yummy local street snacking coupled with my sophisticated NYC cab driver style of commentary along the way. As my Dad used to say, if you truly want to understand a culture you have to look at how the people eat, pray and trade. That means neighbourhood street life, local street markets, yummy street food, local eateries and all manner of taoist, buddhist and local folk temples and shrines.
Trust me to make sure you see plenty along the way including this magnificent 180 degree view on Victoria Peak.
“And when I am done, you too will be able to confidently navigate your way around Hong Kong and Kowloon on your own!”
Here’s how my bespoke Hong Kong cultural tour works. You provide me with a general description of the points of interest you may already have targeted, who you are, what generally interests you, your style of camera shooting and so on. You can do this on the fly or by filling in my Tour Booking Form. I will then quickly and deliberately formulate the ideal Hong Kong cultural walking tour for you and your party/family.
Alternatively, you can just leave it all to me. I have guided hundreds of of folks all around Hong Kong and remarkably, they all seem to enjoy seeing and experiencing the same things I enjoy most: the enduring vestiges of old Hong Kong and truly authentic Hong Kong street life! By authentic Hong Kong street life I mean the real deal, not one of the far too numerous tourist simulations designed to meet hypothetical shopping expectations for Mainland Chinese tourists. I cringe at the nation of a heritage site embedded with an H&M store or a designer watch emporium.
My bespoke Hong Kong cultural tours are not limited to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. If you would like to go on a day excursion to one of the outer islands such as Lamma, Cheung Chau or Lantau (something I strongly recommend if you have the time) or even the rural New Territories, I am thrilled to take you there! Your wish is my command.
On Food: Hong Kong has become a world class food and dining destination. For that reason it is a constant struggle here to keep fit. While I do not do specialised “food themed” tours, there will be numerous opportunities on my tours for sampling Hong Kong’s local Snack Food Big Ten and if you would like to have a local meal while on tour, that can be easily arranged with extra meal time allotted. A dim sum or wonton noodle lunch, spicy fish casserole or local style Cha Chaan Teng tea lunch always hits the spot. And if you are feeling regal, High Tea at the Peninsula is an experience not to be missed. I did it for the first time as a kid and it is still the same memorable experience.
You are in for a local food epiphany when you visit Hong Kong. Eggrolls with moo shoo pork from Soon Fat Takeout will never taste the same.
If you are interested in an authentic local meal just let me know on my Tour Booking Form or at the start of your tour.
Cost of Food or Meals: My tour fees do not include the cost of refreshments or meals which are your responsibility. I am always happy to pay for my own refreshments or meal.
PHOTO WALKS FOR AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS AND PROS
If photography is your thing, you can count on me to take you where you need to go to hunt for that “decisive moment.”. If you need some advice on gear and technique, I will be more than happy to oblige. If you just want to learn how to use your camera, leave it to me. And If you want to do some vintage gear hunting we can do that to. I know where the serious photographers in Hong Kong like to go to hang out and/or shoot.
If you are a professional and have a Hong Kong “hit list,” I will take you to as many as possible in the time allotted. I have also scouted locations for professional film shoots.
If you want me to show you how to maximise your iPhone shooting, I am also happy to do so. The iPhone is a great camera and I am happy to share all of my iPhone tricks. I am also a photo ambassador for Olloclip Asia. Take a look at my Instagram.
Finally, if you just want me to photograph you and your travel companions as your take in the sights or focus on your camera artistry on the streets of Hong Kong, I will be very happy to oblige you. Indeed, no matter which tour option you select, you can count on this being automatic.
If you simply want someone to show you the ropes along a 3 or 4 hour orientation tour of Hong Kong so you can navigate Hong Kong for the rest of your visit, I am the person to do that as well. I will make sure you understand the basic layout of Hong Kong and Kowloon, get the right map, feel confident using Hong Kong’s truly world class public transportation system, target the right sights and shopping destinations, understand the basics on food and etiquette and critically important, Hong Kong’s world class night scene.
THE “BLADE RUNNER” NIGHT TOUR OF HONG KONG
I loved the movie Blade Runner. When I walk around Hong Kong by night, I am constantly reminded of scenes from the movie.
If urban nightlife, vibrant neonesque colour palates, available light photography on dark and gritty streets appeal to you, Hong Kong is a visual Mecca. The crowded Asian style street life coupled with towering futuristic architecture, night markets and plenty of street food make for a visual orgy of night time photography. I also remember what they used to call the beggars nightclub. I believe it is still there, although certain attractions like the lady with the snakes through the nose and the contortionists are not. Oh, and did I mention all the neon signs that look even more remarkable when it rains!
For three hours, I will walk you through a Blade Runneresque evening walking tour of Hong Kong. The tour begins with the world renowned evening panorama from Victoria Peak. From there it crosses Victoria Harbor and enters the neon jungle of Kowloon, the place many Hongkie expats based on Hong Kong Island refer to half jokingly as “the dark side.”
A walk on the so called “dark side” is a visual experience neither you, your camera nor your imagination will soon forget!
Remember, this is all about supercharging your experience in Hong Kong. Above all it is about you having loads of fun! So don’t be shy. Tell me what you want!
And yes, short airport layover tours, cruise ship terminal pickups and last minute bookings are on the menu!
ALL OF MY BESPOKE HONG KONG CULTURAL WALKING TOURS ARE PRIVATE
This means, you will not be part of a public or semi-public tour group, so I will only be attending to your personal preferences in your personal time frame. You will not be listening to and wasting precious time waiting for strangers on my bespoke private tours.
ABOUT WILLIAM BANZAI7
I am an Asian born American of mixed Asian and European descent, so my familiarity with the culture and general history of Asia is a combination of familial relations, business/professional experiences, living experiences and personal interests such as street style photography and my collection of antiquarian silk road maps and travelogues (China, Central Asia and Tibet). I also graduated high school at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan.
As an American offering private cultural tours of Hong Kong, I make big a point of drawing various historical and cultural details of particular interest to American travellers into my narrative. For example, the importance of Yankee clipper ships, the California gold rush and the transcontinental railroad in the emergence of Hong Kong as the gateway to Greater China and Asia.
As a keen observer of people, you can count on my unique perspective from many angles covering the culture, history and quandaries vexing the people of HK as well as the Greater China region. I don’t consider myself an authority, but I have spent considerable time studying and absorbing various topics of local interest that pique my curiosity. As an example: I recently started drilling down into the traditional Chinese mutual benefit societies, the Triads and what is known as Chinese folk religion. The whole Triad thing is another Western cliche begging to be broken. I have a knack for weaving this knowledge into an entertaining presentation that will explain many things that remain a mystery to most visitors to the Streets of Hong Kong.
Word has gotten out that I am a local “gweilo” (“foreign devil”) who really knows his way around. My 12 years in Hong Kong have been the longest I have lived in any city besides New York.
Here I am featured in an article in the Apple Daily, a local Cantonese newspaper.
I have plenty of other stuff I like talking about, but that is entirely up to you. Suffice to say that having lived abroad more than half of my life, I have resided, worked in and visited many places and I have had many interesting experiences in last count 47 countries. More than half of my time abroad was spent in and around China, Japan and SE Asia. Both my Dad and my Grandfather conducted business in China (Hong Kong and Shanghai) and Asia during the first and latter part of the last century. Half of my immediate and extended family is Asian, so Asian history and culture is in my blood. Some guides will show you an authentic local temple. I will show you the temple where my family goes to pray.
My artwork and photography has been featured, posted and reposted on many high traffic websites including Zero Hedge, Max Keiser’s Financial Wars, The Village Voice and Freaking News. I am known as a photoshop specialist in financial market satire and international current events and Huffington Post once characterised me as one of the 25 Most Dangerous Bloggers In Financial Media. I have also had many song and poem parodies reposted by mainstream news sites such as FT’s Seeking Alpha, WSJ online, Businessweek Online, Time Online and NYT Dealbook. I am currently an editorial artist for Automated Trader Magazine.
I am known to carry all manner of camera gear with me wherever I go and I have shot the streets of Hong Kong from all angles in all kinds of conditions. Think of me as an urban big game hunter armed with all kinds of cameras: process film, instant, digital, rangefinder, SLR, mirror less digital, toy, medium format, camera phones and so on. I am a master “photo chopping” artist and image processor. If you want some basic pointers in this regard, I am more than happy to share that know-how as well.
ABOUT MY PREMIUM TOUR GUIDE SERVICES
I have operated as a premium service provider all of my professional life. I do not believe it is overkill to apply the same guiding principles I followed during my former business and professional career to the specialised business of being a first class cultural tour guide.
I would not involve myself this an endeavour unless I have put in 1000 percent of preparation and practice effort.
I am not interested in being a jack of all touristic trades.
I do not offer so called “free public group tours”, boat or helicopter tours, foodie tours, bicycle tours etc. Moreover, I do not offer any travel agency services (see my General Terms of Service).
I am 100% focused on the corner that delivers unique cultural walking tours to the most demanding and exclusive of private clientele, you.
When you engage me, you are engaging a specialist who prides himself in delivering premium cultural and photographic private tour services. I take nothing for granted and I draw upon my own first class travels for guidance. Quality has always come first and foremost in my book. Quantity is not my objective and never will be. For this reason I do not offer discounts or free group tours to fill my calendar and if I am not out on tour, you can be certain that I am either researching, reading or out in the field walking and photographing to expand my knowledge base and personal tour repertoire to provide an ever more informative and engaging client service package to you.
Now, if you have made it this far, then you are no doubt a person who also understands and thrives on the notion of excellence. You know exactly what I am saying and appreciate it for what it is. In the competitive business space I am in, there can be no room for error. You are the client and I am here to manage and satisfy your highest expectations. You are a very busy person, your time is valuable, you care for your family and want them to have a first class all encompassing experience in Hong Kong. You don’t need disappointment and you certainly don’t want to risk your holiday time on an experiment.
Worry not, I am here to passionately and professionally deliver the high standard of service and truly memorable Hong Kong walking tour experience you desire!
And remember to look at my Trip Advisor reviews if you have any doubts about my ability to deliver.
Now For An Important Word on…
I LOVE KIDS!
I am a family man who has traveled with my kids all over the world and that is why kids and teens are always welcome on my tours! All of my kids attended and/or graduated from international schools in Asia. Bottom line: I know what kids like in Hong Kong and I know how to keep them engaged without dramatically altering my tour repertoire!
Oh, and did I forget to mention I love kids!
HOW TO BOOK YOUR PRIVATE HONG KONG CULTURAL TOUR
First, carefully review my Tour Fees and General Terms Page.
I will accept bookings up to one year in advance on a first come first serve basis. Later booking requests should be directed to me by email.
Finally, hit the Submit Button on the Online Booking Form.
I will revert to you by email with a booking confirmation as soon has I am able but certainly with 24 hours.
If you indicate your are seeking a last minute booking I will do my very best to respond immediately.
YES, I ACCEPT LAST MINUTE BOOKINGS!
EMAIL ME OR CALL ASAP TO INQUIRE.
Please Note: Hong Kong is a special needs friendly city and I am a special needs friendly guide.
Please email me or call to inquire.
A WORD ABOUT CLIENT COMMUNICATIONS
I make every reasonable effort to answer all of my email as soon as I am able but certainly within 24 hours. Please note that I cannot engage in email communications or telephone calls when I am out on tour. When on tour I am 100% focused on my clients. Your best alternative for reaching me is via email communication or if phone is required, early morning (after 6AM HK Time ) or in the evening (after 6PM HK Time). I have a What’s App account but I only recommend using that for short message communications immediately preceding a tour or if email is impossible.
MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS: email@example.com
MY MOBILE PHONE NUMBER IS: 852-5190-0601
Looking forward to hearing from you soon,
Until then I am at your service,
[Last updated 6/21/2017]