It’s a common story: a person moves to HK for what they think will be a year or two, only to end up doing a considerably longer stint. For Aussie expat MANDIE FANKHAUSER, that stint is now 21 years – and counting! She invites us for a look inside her Mid-Levels apartment in Hong Kong.
When did you come to Hong Kong, and what brought you here initially?
I came here from Melbourne 21 years ago – my work provided an opportunity that I thought would last for around 12 to 24 months. Who would have thought that it would now be 21 years!
What jobs have you had in that time, and what do you do currently?
I’ve been working in human resources for all of my career in Hong Kong; however, I also have an interiors business – Amandarin Design. I work closely with clients on soft furnishings, staging of their apartments to sell or rent, and lifestyle options and choices including decluttering, storage and more.
What do you remember fondly about HK when you first arrived that you may not find today, or that might have changed?
When I first arrived in Hong Kong, it was booming! There was a great vibrancy that you felt everywhere you went – the expat community was a lot larger than it is today and you were always bumping into people you knew in restaurants and bars. It was a fun place; the social life was amazing.
Where is your home in Hong Kong? What attracted you to it?
I currently live in Mid-Levels – I’ve lived in the area for most of my 21 years, though I’ve also spent some time in Wan Chai and Sai Kung – and 15 months in Singapore. I love living here. It’s a great location where you can get into Central easily but you are also really close to nature with Bowen Road and the Morning Trail right on your doorstep – it gives a nice balance between hectic and relaxed!
How long have you lived in this Mid-Levels apartment?
I’ve lived in two different apartments in my current block, across a period of around two and a half years.
Tell us a bit about the location; what’s notable about it, and what’s nearby?
Mid-Levels feels like a “neighbourhood” – Robinson and Conduit Roads really form the basis of the area and, of course where the famous longest escalator ends! It really offers a lot – there are coffee shops, eateries and supermarkets so you can easily grab what you need close by. As I mentioned earlier, we also have great accessibility to walking and hiking; you find many people out and about in the mornings and weekends taking advantage of this.
What are some of the key features of the home?
I decided to downsize to a two bedroom apartment when I moved to this current place. I love it; it’s cosy and welcoming at around 500 square feet, with a lot of natural light and a fab little balcony where I grow plants. Actually, my apartment is full of plants! Speaking of plants, got any tips on the best way to look after them in an apartment? Plants bring a place alive, but looking after them does require a lot of work! Some things that have worked for me are to make sure you place them in morning sunlight rather than the hot afternoon sun, water weekly as needed (I purchased a water tester to help with this), feed them organic plant food on a monthly basis and also give them constant pampering to help them flourish.
Is there a spot in the home that you enjoy the most?
I love my balcony; it’s nice to sit out there in the mornings for coffee.
Tell us about any changes you’ve made to the place. Do you have a particular home décor style?
I’ve bought my personal style and touch to my apartment by incorporating colour, textures and shapes. My style really differs from room to room – the lounge/ dining area is full of rich colours, textures, paintings and, of course, plants! However, my office and main bedroom are in a more calming palette.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Mid-Levels?
The vibe, and the people living in the area – you’re always saying good morning to someone you pass in the street!
Tell us about a few items of yours in the home that have an interesting background or story behind them.
I’ve collected some lovely artefacts and pieces of art from most of my travels and all of them have a story – but the one piece I really do love is a beautiful brass water feature that I purchased on a trip to South Korea. It’s always admired by people visiting my home.
My Hay Uchiwa Chair is a place I love to sit – I bought it about one month ago from a lovely lady who wanted it to go to a good home. The chair is an open shape, designed to represent a traditional Japanese hand fan. It’s super comfy!
What do you like to do in Hong Kong when you’re not working?
I love spending time with friends, walking Bowen Road on the weekends, doing yoga and meditation, and, of course, working on my design business.
Where’s the first place you’d like to go when borders open, and why?
Melbourne – my family are there and I haven’t seen them for two years… I can’t wait!
Furniture, Rugs & Homeware
Shop B2, G/F, 63-69 Caine Road, Mid-Levels
2317 0368 | indigo-living.com
G/F, 1 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
2527 6088 | ovo.com.hk
Staunton & Henry
Dining & Drinks
The Coffee Academics
G/F, 30-32 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels
2723 8808 | the-coffeeacademics.com
Feather & Bone
G/F, Orchid, 22 Mosque Street, Mid-Levels
2387 8377 | featherandbone.com.hk
G/F, 29 Shelley Street, Mid-Levels
2546 2110 | enotecagroup.com/phoenix
23 Mosque Street, Mid-Levels
2525 2520 | pizzeriaitalia.hk
This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.