Wan Chai’s first 24 hour, self service laundromat 

… is in a rather obscure location. 


Most laundry shops are along popular pedestrian streets. Swatow Street, in the market area of Triangle Street, the “American Laundry” shop on the corner of Queens Road East and Stone Nullah Lane (nothing American about it excepts its name), these small laundry service shops will wash your clothes by weight and fold them when dry into a tidy bag. Most of them open daily from 8am to 8pm (sometimes later) and their machines run pretty much non stop throughout the day. If you send your dirty laundry in early you’ll generally get to pick it up in the late afternoon or early evening. 

I’ve been reflecting on the small apartment sizes in Hong Kong and the general lack of space. Especially in the kitchen where clean laundry is often taken out of a washer/ dryer machine between a stove and a fridge. Does this make the most sense as a laundry area? As our little gang has three (or more) meals per day at home, a dishwasher would be highly appreciated to save water and precious drying space. 

The washing machine could be a communal or commercially run self service laundromat. Like coin laundries all over Japan, Europe and the US. One of my neighbours expressed her concern about using communal laundry machines (imagine finding other people’s pubes in your clothes, she said) but I think this thinking is incorrect.

The washing machines I’ve used in many laundromats have no attendants and yet are utterly spotless. The ones in Japan are high powered, clean and large, able to take a huge wash load. There’s often a little coin/ cashcard operated soap dispensing machine if you’ve forgotten to bring your own. 

The unmanned laundromats are monitored by CCTV and the doors are locked during the late hours, automatically unlocking at opening time. This makes it a completely remote controlled facility, a common control Center would be able to monitor a chain of laundromats this way.

Compare this to the shop here.


These are definitely for small loads, not sure if my sheets would fit. Wish they would install a larger one and charge a little more fit the bigger things that often don’t fit in the home machine either.

How much for a wash? Not too much if your machine has broken down. You’d pay a lot not to smell like a skunk. Less than $50.


There’s also a self collect locker service at the very back for your SF parcel pick up.

There are no doors. It is open 24/7. How fantastic. Maybe it’s busy after hours.

Quite neat. I wonder if it’s making any money. Great to know as a back up.

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It’s a Pokemon Friday in Wan Chai

The Pokemon monsters seem to appear in the evenings between 5.30-6.15pm coinciding nicely with after work rush hour. The monster catchers line up patiently and quietly, all obsessed with their phones. This was the case again on Friday evening outside the old Wanchai post office and the Indigo Hotel. For some reason the Pokemon like to congregate there. 

Old wanchai post office has never been more popular
Indigo Hotel Pokemon monster catchers

The crowd want as large as the last post, but these were clearly ardent fans.

The most ridiculous thing was that there were also players in cars. They parked illegally on double yellow lines and the drivers were oblivious to the police who stood there giving them a few minutes to leave (but they didn’t) then proceeding to issue them a ticket. Inside, I could see the drivers frantically playing the game on their phone. Is a Pokemon monster really worth a street parking ticket? 

An illegal parking ticket is no deterrent for this Pokemon fan

It wasn’t just one car but several so the police had a reasonable job to do. Maybe they should just follow the Pokemon trail because wherever they appear, traffic guidance is definitely required. 

Fire Engine Frustrations

Inconsiderate people are everywhere. Not just at the lifts at the MTR. Is it Hong Kong’s stressful, time-lacking situations that make it so? It must be tough work being a customer service officer here. People want top service but are out to get the best deal and expect the first class infrastructure to help create that competitive environment. 

I watched this Fire engine wail past me at the Wan Chai / Johnston Road intersection, its fire fighters all suited up and sirens at maximum volume. I took a leisurely stroll (maybe 2km/hour) up Wan Chai Road towards the market to find it completely stuck before the Queens Road East intersection. How can a person carrying a baby, a backpack and an umbrella be walking faster than a fire engine?


How frustrated the firemen must be. Cars were double parked two vehicles deep on one side and a truck occupied the other side of the road. And the truck and goods people expected the fire engine to somehow squeeze its way through. The road was certainly not designed as a three laned highway. 

If a fire was burning down a house or a family was trapped in an elevator, this little traffic jam would be wasting valuable time. Do the drivers care? No. What if it’s their family? 

The truck finally moved off at the insistence of the fire engine. Those cars double parked should’ve moved off too. 

If only the traffic police would allow pedestrians to report obstructions and penalise them, that might force all these drivers to behave with more consideration. 

Intriguing sign at Wan Chai MTR

One of the two elevators at Wan Chai MTR breaks down every few months. They take turns. More often, it’s the one that slogs the lazy people (and the occasional handicapped person or stroller family) from the basement concourse to the ground floor and the overhead bridge. But I don’t think it’s the lazy people that’s the cause of the breakdown, though they are a major contributing factor. 

It’s the goods hauling guys who use this as a cargo lift. They shift weights that could be the density of two or three people on a single trolley. It’s almost downright dangerous to have elderly, disabled people and babies or young toddlers in the mix. 

Too often I’ve seen able bodied people squeeze into this elevator when there’s an escalator nearby to both ground and overhead bridge. Here in Hong Kong, people must be tired of commuting and even a few extra steps saved is worth inconveniencing others who need the priority access passage. 

Look at this ridiculous sign showing the realistic yet ironic situation at the lifts.


If you were in a line 7 strollers (prams) deep, it might take you half an hour to get from the ground floor down to the concourse. One lift only fits one family.

What can or should MTR Corp do about this?

SOLUTIONS?

  • Firstly how about putting the escalators next to the lift so that everyone standing in the queue has NO excuse not to use it. 
  • Or, put signs on the floor directing people to the escalators.
  • Then how about lifts that can actually move  at least 20 people at one go. We’re talking airport sized lifts, not small cramped coffin style ones from the 70’s.
  • All goods hauling has to go by a separate lift.
  • Signs indicating that only 1 able bodied person should accompany the baby or disabled person. How often have you seen 3/4 people accompanying one stroller or wheelchair user? The flocking is laziness. They should just meet at the platform. 

Hong Kong MTR Corp needs to put some of its profits (US 1.32 billion) to making the transport system accessible to everyone. It’s an efficient train system no doubt but the old stations need renovation and a re-think on providing barrier free and priority access to those who need it. 

Safety and Speed. Both important considerations in this busy metropolis. The MTR planners and architects should try pushing a stroller on a weekend to see where the chokepoints are.

The premature death of a City Tree

The City Tree installed at Hopewell Center always seemed a half hearted attempt. It was more PR pomp and bluster than a genuine statement of green energy, roadside air pollution or the creation of a sitting area with the feeling of sitting under a real tree in a park. 


It didn’t come as a huge surprise to me then, that last week some guys dismantled it very quietly and without much fuss. In its place, they’ve erected a shelter in which they seem to be doing some tile work. Could they be building a bigger one? It’s all a bit unclear what direction this is heading in and whether the sponsors will keep backing a project that doesn’t work. 

I think if the sponsors are serious about it, pay to build a proper one that will handle the roadside air pollution and please pay the maintenance subscription fees. It looks like the City Tree is higher maintenance than a real tree… but then again it’s supppsed to represent 20-30 trees in a park so maybe the maintenance costs should be equal to that. No shortcuts. 

If you’d like to see some history on the city tree, check out these posts from when it was ALIVE

Free Buddhist meditation classes in Wan Chai

On Jaffe road near the excellent pork wanton noodle shop Trusty Gourmet, is a large but discreet Buddhist meditation centre called Pu Guang.  Walking by, you may not even notice it, unless they happen to coincide with one of their functions or ending of a class. 

A friend CB used to attend the class conducted in the basement and found it quite relaxing. He described it as a friendly and peaceful atmosphere, despite not understanding any of the instructions in Cantonese. 

They are now running free classes in English if you happen to be interested. Details here.

Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty