Doughnut cravings? Where to get your fix in Wanchai

Every once in a while, I get a doughnut (donut if you’re American 😀) craving. Oh where to go for a simple doughnut that will hit the spot? Most local style doughnuts are a bit chewy and leave a lot of sugar crystals all over the place. 

I’ve had ones from the ABC Bakery, the takeaway section at Taste, and the one from Happy Cake Shop on Queens Road East. Personally, I quite enjoy the JCo ones for the airy texture (not chewy or doughy) and it’s “not so sweet” on the palate.

Here are some photos for you to decide where to go for your doughnut fix in Wanchai.

Ground floor deli at Hopewell Center
Very popular choice at the ABC Bakery
Doughnuts are cheap but vary batch to batch
Hit the J Co doughnuts on Hennessy Road

Apart from the texture and consistency of J CO’s doughnuts, they also have a nice cafe setting for you to enjoy your doughnut, elevating it from a grab and go snack in a bag to a pastry status.

Nice warm, spacious setting

It’s warmly decorated, spacious and well lit. There’s also a ramp entrance, a huge plus for strollers and prams.

So here’s the one I had. Non glazed basic doughnut which was an absolute delight.

Enjoying my simple doughnut
Find them at 55 Hennessy Road.

J Co Cafe in Wanchai

It’s on the side of the street heading down towards Causeway Bay, or check out their Fb page here.

J Co Doughnuts on Hennessy Road

Wan Chai’s largest outdoor event space 

… is Southorn Playground. 

When I first heard of Southorn Playground, my initial thoughts were of an actual playground with green flora interspersed with fountains and footpaths. In reality, it’s a football court and two basketball courts adjacent to each other with bleachers on one side of it. It is lacking in true flora (there are a few trees and planter boxes), there isn’t much space for that. So it’s not somewhere you would go for “fresh air”.

However, it is a big community space and members of the public are welcome to walk through it (to avoid the rubbish collection area on Luard) to get to Johnston Road, or sit on the bleachers for lunch. You could try and find a space along the perimeter of the courts but you’ll find yourself competing with the elderly and infirm hanging out with their caregivers.

When there isn’t a game of footie or basketball going on, the space is used for community events. 

Table plan for Chaoren association dinner

The event taking over Southorn Playground tonight is the Chaoren Association of Hong Kong. Looks like a lot of Hong Kong’s Chiu Chow people will be gathering in one place. At least 3000 of them anyway, according to the seating chart.

Tables all set at Southorn Playground

Well, it’s nice and cool weather, great to be outdoors. I’m impressed at how they are going to cater for that many people… unless it’s packed food handed out at the entrance.

The Techtonics perform at Lee Tung Avenue

I just happened to be at Lee Tung Avenue at lunchtime on Tuesday and saw some tech guys setting up amplifiers and microphones. A young lady approached me and offered me a booklet about the a Capella festival that’s on this week. She gestured to a page towards the center of the booklet and showed me the write up on The Techtonics. “They’ll perform at 1pm” she said. It was 12.28 so I figured that I’d hang around and see what it’s all about.

I’ve always enjoyed a Capella and didn’t need any convincing.

The all male Techtonics group did their vocal warm ups at a corner and tested the microphones with some beatbox rhythms and a short song to get the crowd to stick around. It was effective. Many people gathered around the center courtyard area, occupying the benches and leaning against the walls near the Seoul bistro and Omotesando cafe entrances.

It was thoroughly enjoyable. They sang six songs animatedly and got the crowd excited. I felt like dancing along but was too busy recording it on video like everyone else! Well, I did do a little bit of dancing.

Here’s a short clip.

They are performing in various spots in Hong Kong, check out the HK a capella Facebook page if you want to see them live.

Ok ok. I am a fan :). Here’s another short clip of Edric, their leader singing Adele’s Hello.

It was just fantastic guys. Really enjoyed it. Looking forward to your final performance on Sunday.

Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Some of Wan Chai’s playgrounds are tucked away in little hidden areas, almost like private courtyards for in-the-know residents. It’s nice that these spaces are reserved and gazetted as public parks, though I wish the local district council would consider upgrading them (not just maintaining them) as a matter of routine.

One example is this playground at Wan Chai Gap Road. Not many would know of its existence unless you’re a regular commuter along the Wan Chai Gap Road, or have a habit of ducking down narrow alleys for a look around.

There are two access points to the playground, one down a narrow alley off Stone Nullah Lane (past popular drinking spot Stone Nullah Tavern), the other is via the steep Wan Chai Gap Road off Queens Road East. That’s the steep little road just by the old post office. Then down some stairs to the left.

Playground entrance

It’s surrounded either by high walls or buildings on all sides, and there are steps for both entrances, so this isn’t one that I recommend going with your monster stroller.

Play area for children 2-5years old

It does open up to a fairly wide concrete area, with very small facilities for young kids. By that I mean that the age catered for is 2-5 years old. There are three little ride-ons which can provide a ten minute respite, and a tic tac toe grid if you fancy a quick game. I thought it was a real pity the very large under-utilised space had no swings or slide.

Instead it serves more as an air well  and walk through connector for residents. Not much of a playground is it? 

Wanchai Gap Playground “Connector”

I suppose kids could take their toys there to play… but if that was the idea then a ramp should be made in place of steps.

Hong Kong needs to step up a notch in playground design. As one of the top financial centres in the world, the public playgrounds are lagging behind Tokyo, New York, London, Singapore. 

Find the playground here if you need to get off the busy streets and catch a breather.

Location of Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Urban pollution: Noise, Air & Dust

In response to this article about HK smog creation and this article about the latest pollution standards.

To live in Hong Kong is to experience a continuous assault on your senses. 

For an auditory assault, descend from your high level apartment to street level and it goes from a soft hum of white noise to the full throttle of taxis and impatient car honking, the screeching of the tram, the sirens of ambulances and police vehicles in a hurry, the yelling of vendors through speakers (this should be banned), the cacophonous music of buskers, delivery men rolling their metal carts, the never ending drilling and thunderous clanging of construction both above your head and beneath your feet. 

Extracted from the EPD of Hong Kong

Then there’s the olfactory assault. The smell of dog pee, the trail of cigarette smoke still curling from the smoker two steps ahead, the dampness of drains and venting of sewers, the exhaust of restaurants and vendors with their frying, baking, steaming. The repetitive waves of exhaust fumes from cars, trucks and old buses shifting from idle to acceleration. 

It can be exhilarating and exhausting if you’re not used to this dense urban environment, and especially so if you have a baby. 

I was walking down Wan Chai road on a Saturday morning and cars were stuck and some drivers didn’t take their hands off the horn. I gave those drivers my most evil glares… what did they expect? Smooth traffic on a Saturday afternoon? If you want to get there fast, leave your car at home and take the train. Poor baby had repeated auditory shocks from the honking and gave up sleeping. For the rest of us, we grow accustomed to the noise but that does not mean it’s plessurable to be on the streets.

This made me reflect on electric automated vehicles and how much more pleasant dense urban environments could become. 

Imagine no idling engine fumes from vehicles stuck in traffic for an hour.

Imagine no out of date enviro 500 buses (the private companies should have a scrappage scheme in place) but quiet clean electric double deckers with no crazy braking bus drivers.

Imagine no honking from ten cars stuck behind an unloading truck or a taxi that was a bit slow in dropping off a passenger curbside.

Imagine no traffic jams as the cars would be automatically redirecting to use the best route.

Imagine no frustrated drivers as they could all be transfixed by the latest Facebook posting.

Imagine that if you wanted, you could get out of the car and walk to your destination and your car could self park or meet you there.

Imagine if your government made it possible. 

Hong Kong is the no.1 Tesla adopter, so the rich are onto something. (Tesla owners, Thank you for choosing a vehicle that does not engine idle and pump out fumes and noise on acceleration).

But if the rich policy makers and businessmen want clean air and less mental stress for their children, better lobby for something to be done at street level, because that’s where the kids are spending most of their day. 

The first baby step? Pedestrianise the streets for a day on the weekend. That doesn’t involve legislation or taxpayer dollars.

Next, get the finance minister to get off his rear on the budget and do something for the local community. That will draw political ire away from the current status quo if people of all economic backgrounds just became healthier. This may offset the budget for the health ministry. 

See what air pollution does to your body in this short animation.

Glass recycling in Wan Chai

Ok. Found some places where you can send your glass bottles for recycling. I read this article in the SCMP about April, the green activist who organizes dump trucks and volunteers to collect glass from various parts of Hong Kong. 

They are spread out over different days, times and areas so I’d advise you to check before lugging all the glass you have down there. 

This is the information for Wan Chai.

Green Glass Collection point Wan Chai
Glass recycling collection sites Wan Chai

You should also refer to this link to confirm that the glass you’re sending is suited for recycling

But here’s a quick graphic from their site to tell you what they do take (check out their site to see what they don’t).

On their site, they list restaurants and bars who actively work with them to recycle glass bottles… you can check out if any of your favourite watering holes are among them….!

P.s. You might also like to know that if you buy the glass bottles Kowloon Dairy milk, you can rinse and return for a dollar at any 7-11, PnS or Wellcome.

Is Hong Kong’s recycling effort just lip service?

The children’s book “Michael Recycle” is about a town full of trash and a superhero who changed their perceptions and encouraged them to think about the planet… ultimately where the process of recycling saved the day.

The book Michael Recycle about recycling for a better world

Encouraged and inspired by Michael Recycle, we decided to put some papers and wine bottles in the recycling bin. However the one in the basement of our building only has paper, plastic and metal recycling bins. None for glass. Hmm. I ended up hoarding the glass bottles for half a year and have only disposed of it last week when I finally found a glass recycling bin. Note that if you buy glass bottled Kowloon dairy milk, you can get a dollar back for each bottle returned at 7-11. Here’s a site discussing it.

A search online for recycling bin locations  in Wanchai is confounding. I almost gave up.
I also discovered that I had some old DVDs and CDs but where would those go? It certainly doesn’t belong in the metals bin. I checked online and found a blogger who also has an interest in the subject and listed out recycling bins in Hong Kong. She sent me this link. Ok fair enough. I’ve checked them out and also included ones that I’ve found which are unlisted on the site. Here they are for your reference.

Here’s what I found:

Recycling Bin on Wan Chai Road & Queens Road East

On the corner of Wan Chai Road & Queens Road East, the bin takes metals, plastic and paper. General trash goes on the orange bin.

Recycling bin at Wanchai Convention Center

These bins found along the corridor of Wan Chai Convention  Center opposite the main gift shop allow you to drop batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, metals, plastic and paper.

Recycling bin, corridor of immigration building
Tucked away in the corner of the corridor in immigration building (walking towards the Wan Chai Convention Center) are these bins for batteries, metals, plastic and paper.

Recycling bins on the corner of Luard & Hennessy outside the HSBC

These bins on Luard and Hennessy look like they need a good clean and clearing out. Only metals, plastic bottles, paper are accepted. Everything else goes into the leftmost trash bin. You can see the plastic bottles overflowing… not surprising after a weekend.

Recycling bins outside Wan Chai Post office, Queens Road East

Here’s the recycling bin outside the old Wanchai post office on Queens Road East. Only metals, plastic bottles and waste paper accepted. It looks like the bin man needs to clear the bottle compartment and shut the doors properly.

Recycling bins at Spring Garden Lane Park

These look like newly installed recycling bins. Same deal but with a new graphic sticker overlay. Metals, plastic, paper and general trash on the left reminding you it goes to landfill.

Recycling bins outside Southorn Playground, Johnston Road

These are the recycling bins outside Southorn playground, Johnston Road exit. Accepts only metal, plastic, paper and general trash.

Recycling bin, Hennessy Road exit

This bin on the other side of Southorn playground takes the metal, plastic bottles and paper. Note that there are two  boxes for the plastic bottles, presumably because sports elicits thirst and reasoned that an extra bin for bottles would be warranted.
Recycling bins, Tai Wong East Street Sitting Out Area
Clothes recycling bin, Tai Wong East Street

At the Tai Wong Street East Sitting out area, the recycling bins accept metals, plastic bottles and paper. There’s an additional used clothes bin opposite it too.

Recycling bin for metal, plastic, paper

Outside Lockhart Road Market Building, this recycling bin accepts metals, plastic bottles and paper.

Last but not least…. (drum roll)….
By far the cleanest and most comprehensive recycling bin is found in the lobby of Central Building. It’s on the left of the corridor as you’re walking towards the Convention Center. This recycling bin takes batteries, compact discs and DVDs, metal, plastic, paper, glass and copier toner. 

It wasn’t easy to seek these bins out. I had to be on the alert to spot them and I’m so glad I’ve found a bin which takes more that the usual metal, plastic and paper. I wonder why there aren’t more glass recycling bins? 

I also noticed that most of the bins filled up quickly with the plastic bottles as no one bothers to crush them before throwing them in. These machines by reversevending should be installed instead. The machines would compact the bottles and are very neat. I bet that it’d be super popular in Hong Kong.

How can recycling get more attention? Is it just about leaving bins everywhere and decorating them with stickers? 

It really is a state of despair in Hong Kong.  We can sort out our trash and make an effort to take it to these bins but what happens after that?….. check out this article.