Rugby player, freelance journalist, author
As a professional rugby sevens player at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, Lindsay Varty has been a fixture in the local sporting scene for years. As a freelance journalist, she has reported on topics like Hong Kong’s latest hat craze, and luxury spa holidays.
Now she can add “published author” to her list of accomplishments. Last year, her book “Sunset Survivors: Meet the People Keeping Hong Kong’s Traditional Industries Alive” was released. Profiling the city’s dying industries through the tradesmen and tradeswomen who still carry out crafts like villain-hitting, letter-writing and bamboo birdcage-making, the book took Varty two years to put together.
“Growing up in Hong Kong, my parents always wanted my brother and I to get to know the ‘real Hong Kong’,” she remembers. “When we were young, they would take us to eat congee in Sham Shui Po, buy fish for the fish tank in Tung Choi Street, and learn to haggle for the freshest cuts of meat or fish in the wet market.”
As time went on, it struck her that these experiences from her Hong Kong childhood could one day no longer stand. “It was actually one old man in Central who used to sell little white flowers from a tray around his neck that inspired me to write the book,” she says. “He was there everyday, until one day, he was gone forever — that’s when I started to look into Hong Kong’s old industries and which ones were still around.
Varty admits that it was at times difficult to get elderly tradespeople to speak — but her “endearingly bad Cantonese,” and the fact that she always bought something or tried their service, helped. “Once they realised I was genuinely interested in their stories, they often had quite a lot to say.”
She hopes her work can remind people of what makes the city so unique. “These amazing people and their stories are the ingredients to Hong Kong’s cultural identity — what makes this city so interesting and unlike any other.”
Her first job? Assistant manager for a French cosmetics company
Her role model? Her brother Rowan Varty, who’s also a professional rugby player and a lawyer, “for his ability to always be the best at whatever he does and for always being modest about it.” Her teammate and Hong Kong rugby veteran Royce Chan, “for always finding the humour in life and for always being there for her friends.
See the full list of The Loop HK’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019.