Hong Kong is a fun place to live. But after experiencing a full four seasons of this city, I have to say that summer in hong kong is just balls. Having lived in Canada most of my life, where we craved sun and greens all year long, I didn’t understand it when my new friend told me that during the summer in Hong Kong, she doesn’t go outside during the day. Summers here are too hot to do anything. Word to the wise for anybody new here: if google map says you will have to walk for any distance longer than 4 minutes, just cab it. It’s not worth showing up at appointments and dates looking like a hot dog.
But the only thing to keep summer alive would be junks. I don’t know why they’re called junks, since all of the boats I’ve been on (with the exception of my old company’s junk during dragon boat season) don’t resemble anything junk-y. They’re usually quite steady, moderate, and have enough room for people to tan, play beer pong, or pass out.
This year, I took on the task of planning a junk for my friends, and my friends’ friends. It was quite fun for me, so I have come up with the following tips for anyone else looking to do the same.
- Pick your date.
The hardest part of getting started was picking a date. With it being summer, you are bound to have lots of people out of town. Nevertheless, pick your date early and send out save-the-dates to all your guests couple months ahead. Better yet, create a whatsapp group that will both annoy all of the members, as well as pressure you to actually get off your butt and do some planning.
Pro Tip: it rains a lot in the spring/summer in Hong Kong. August-October may be more promising when it comes to getting clear skies.
- Pick your junk.
Unless you know someone with a junk already, you can use any of the junk brokerages in Hong Kong. I went with Holimood, which had a good selection of junks/boats/yachts. You can order food, drinks, or water sports, directly through Holimood as well, and each boat lists out the fees associated.
Pro tip: Get one with a slide so you know they will have pumps for your floaties.
- Party capacity.
Each junk will have a maximum capacity – but from personal experience, anything over 40 is a bit too much – unless you have a legitimate three level yacht with more than two working bathrooms. As with any party planning – 10-15% will likely not show/drop out of the list – so it is okay to over-invite a bit.
- Food and Catering.
Most people don’t end up eating on junks, and those that do probably don’t care about what they’ve eaten. I catered food directly from the Holimood company so that they will deliver it onto the pier on the day of. I didn’t do buffet because those are by headcount and assuming that everyone will eat is a waste of money – instead I chose a basic Junk Party set. I would recommend leaving some room for snack budget and not going too overboard with the lunch catering. It’s important to have chips, chocolate, crackers, and juice from the moment you leave shore – it would be a bad idea if nobody ate anything until lunch was served at 1pm.As for drinks, I am a bit more particular about what I drank so I opted to order from GRG Wines, referred by my friend for their delivery-to-the-pier service. They had a good selection of beer, hard liquor, water and mixes and prices were reasonable. I ordered 80% of my alcohol from them, and the ones that they didn’t offer (for example, sparkling wine), I bought from grocery stores, such as Wellcome or Park N’ Shop (although the real steals were the blueberry Somersby bottles I picked up from Best Mart 360). Most grocery stores also deliver to your home if you order over HKD500. I would buy the heavy stuff (cases of beers) from GRG wines, and buy individual bottles myself.
Pro tip: Buying enough water for everyone should be basic, but also remember to buy non-alcoholic drinks, even for your alcoholic friends. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that people who drink alcohol will only drink alcohol. And I don’t just mean mixes for your vodka – I mean buy juice for the sake of buying juice. From what I can remember, Chrysantheum-tea juice boxes were a hit.
- Getting paid.
I’ve heard that the most annoying thing about being the host was chasing people for payments. But in actuality, it’s quite easy. This may be a bit annoying, but create a whatsapp group and have everyone transfer you money (via Payme) and then check themselves off. It helps to get paid at least two weeks before the junk so you know what budget to work with. Always give yourself a little bit of a buffer (say 5%) for miscellaneous items.
- Miscellaneous costs.
So that extra 5% buffer – I used it to order the Go Go Van (an app that lets you rent vans by the hour) to help me move the snacks/extra alcohol to the pier the morning of. Holimood also lets you buy one floatie for cheap (I bought a unicorn for HKD199, and my friend picked up a beer pong table floatie for HKD1 last year), provided you are willing to travel to Kwun Tong for it.
- On the day of.
Chances are, everyone will be late. Order your boat to leave at 10am and tell everyone to be there for 9:30. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the chance to run to mcdonald for breakfast if they’re early. As for yourself, have a friend grab breakfast for you (and eat it).
To help give an idea of the logistics of a junk:
- Final number of attendees was 39 (out of a maximum capacity of 43).
- I charged a fee of HKD630 (usual junks are between HKD600-HKD700), and it covered everything (catered food, three backpacks of snacks, booze, and my one unicorn floatie).
One more thing that I learned through this experience – as discussed in point 1 – summer weather in Hong Kong is unpredictable. I use to curse at the skies for giving me perfect blue skies Monday to Friday, only to have it monsoon for three weekends in a row. Most junks have the same policy when it comes to bad weather: Unless it’s a T3, the boats will go out. And if you have done everything right and bought enough alcohol to feed a small army – no one will care about the weather. Just go and have fun.
Pro tip: take a group picture before everyone is tanked.
Oh, and tie your floaties (and your drunk friends) to the boat.