Planning Your Spring Trip
Words: Matthew Baren
Pollution rolls through the streets like the warm embrace of a chain smoking grandma from the north. The sun breaks through on days, warm and muggy and sending gweilos sweating
through the streets whilst the local boys shiver in scarves and hats, heels clicking with impeccable style. Today, mist settles, Kowloon obscured and across the harbour, out into the sea, is nothing. Asia’s world city, shrouded in a white blanket and cataracts.
Standing in a bar last week and someone tells me that Brits talk about the weather because it’s the only possible thing they can have in common with each other, we’re so closed up in our own lives. Maybe so. It’s the same reason we drink, and go on holiday in droves together to Spain and Greece and Disneyland Florida to complain together about how foreign everything is. Hong Kong is no different. We gather in bars or on Lamma (in bars) to complain about each other, or the weather, or to listen to how much things have changed in the past seventeen years and to plot our immediate departure for Blighty, for British pubs and eventually for teaching jobs in the Costa del Sol.
Writing at the end of January then it’s poor weather, and with the outlook not much different through March, this skinny gweilo is looking for sun and sand, for good times and bad things. Pack your bags and get off the island, here’s some of the best getaways this spring.
Hate the departure lounge? Nothing spoils a holiday quite like delays at the airport, so cut out the return flight. Atlantis Cruises (www.atlantisevents.com) are snaking their way from Singapore to Hong Kong from March 31st – April 11th. With twenty years of experience notched on their bedpost, let these salty old sea dogs show you the ropes on a tour which covers Bangkok, Saigon and all in between. Shore leave is generous, with up to 12 hour stops at some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches and cultural sites, including the phenomenal Ha Long Bay. But the real draw is back on board. The specially chartered Millennium offers all manner of pleasure. Play wet in the state-of-the-art pool and lounge areas, or stay dry with boutique shopping and fine dining. Night time brings some of the best parties at sea, billing the worlds top gay DJs, stage shows and entertainers. No need to wile away the hours in your cabin…unless you find the right cabin boy. Speaking of which, the one downside guests have mentioned is limited cabin space. Keep it light on the luggage. Rooms are for sharing, so if you’re travelling solo the company runs a buddy scheme.
Girls are welcome, with around 5% of the 2,000 strong voyage female, so bring your ladies along with your speedos and sunblock.
Bring out the gimp! No sea legs? Stay on the dry land from April 12th-14th at Rubbout (www.rubbout.com), Vancouver’s all-male rubber and fetish festival. This strictly back to black event has been kinking it up since 1991, with a small team of rubbermen and volunteers pulling together one of the world’s biggest and best celebrations of black and shiny. Events are split between the infamous Pumpjack Pub and Junction club. Look out for the Rubber Invasion crawl, taking you from the fringe and into the black heart of Vancouver. No more rubber-free zones. New to the party? Rubbout is open to new and old faces alike, advising you to bring your own gear or borrow from a friend (leather is an acceptable substitute)! And if your latex wardrobe still feels light, Saturday sees a chance to stock up with a gear swap and silent auction. Bring out your inner puppy for the puppy play party in the afternoon, before strapping up and squeezing in for rubber play into the early hours. Head home early or stay a few extra days and take in the beauty of Canada’s west coast.
Songkran (www.gcircuit.com) is back. A circuit party like no other, head to Bangkok April 13-15 for one very long night. Taking in three venues, including the Renaissance Hotel and Sofitel So’s rooftop (more about that in a moment), the main parties are happening at Zen Events Gallery. Yes, it’s above a mall, and come Sunday it’s going to feel like Dawn of the Dead. Check the lineup though: Mexican wunderkind Isaac Escalante heads the Friday opening night lineup, before giving way to Micky Friedmann at Saturday’s Galactica party and headliner DJ and producer Danny Verde, best known for his Scissor Sisters and Lady Gaga remixes. Ana Paula wraps it up on Sunday night…and don’t forget the wet parties. Bears On Top and Boys On Top will help you unwind Saturday and Sunday afternoon with six hours of poolside playtime. New to this year though is Sofitel So, hosting Boys On Top and making it Songkran’s first rooftop party. Get wet, get messy. Just don’t fall off.
Miami Beach Pride (www.miamibeachgaypride.com) is turning five. Time to have your cake and eat it. The two day beach party, running April 12-14, is attracting heavy and heady crowds for such a young babe, with over 60,000 people attending last year and more expected this time around. She’s been a good girl this year and is ready for a party. Expect the usual vendors, organisations and a pride parade with a distinct south Florida flavour. MOVA lounge packs out for a six hour free block party Friday night. Saturday it’s down to the beach for a sand and sun rave, expect it fresh, breezy and sweaty. Latin and Main Stage events fill the weekend, before a slew of Saturday night parties to suit every taste. The nice thing about this one is that Pride is open to all ages and family friendly. Bottomless Mimosas flow freely between beers and Bloody Mary’s, the community drives this event and has something to offer everyone. Maybe this is one you can take you mother to.
Easter is really all about the chocolate! If indulging your sweet tooth isn’t your thing, consider a trip out to St Petersburg and check out the House of Faberge’s fabulous collection of jeweled eggs. The wonders don’t stop there, with the city that gave birth to gay maestro Tchaikovsky boasting the most celebrated icons of Russian architecture, including the Winter palace, and an exquisite skyline perched on the banks of the River
Neva. Be sure to swing by the State Duma too, where just orthodox groups recently attacked gay rights activists during a non-violent ‘kissing day’ event. The protest aimed to highlight the ongoing battle against ‘Anti-Homosexual Propaganda’ laws, which are attacking freedom of speech and basic human rights for LGBT people across the nation. Part of the ongoing erosion of liberties by Putin-Medvedev, the laws purport to protect minors from indoctrination, but are paving the way for persecution of gay people. Not one of the events listed in this article could exist in St Petersburg. Nor, legally, could this magazine, or with any degree of ease the organisations which fight for rights in Hong Kong. Russia is a beautiful country once again turning ugly in the most pernicious way.