First flea market at the newly renovated Blue House 藍屋 in Wan Chai

If you live in Wan Chai and looking for a flea market today, you’ll find it at the Blue House (藍屋). It’s a lively scene. A small courtyard with music and packed with lots of traders each occupying a mat no larger than a meter square. I’m not sure who is buying… perhaps it may have been busier earlier in the day. It shuts at 6pm and with only an hour to go, I can still see lots of items on display. 

Scenes from the Flea market

My point is this. It’s poorly publicised. I wouldn’t have known about it except that I happened to walk right by it on Queens road east. Not a brochure, poster or banner anywhere in the neighbourhood until today. Why?

I’m keen to find out if the traders thought it was a worthwhile economic activity… perhaps just to get their branding and name featured on the launch of the Blue House

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I headed back there at 6pm to catch everyone tidying up. I wasn’t terribly impressed with what was for sale, it looked like bric-a-brac and some handicraft, a couple of purse stalls that looked like they were bought from Sham Shui Po (no offence meant, it’s just that they didn’t look special). 

A lady was singing “moon represents my heart” by Teresa Teng accompanied by a guitarist. It was a bit karaoke and folksy. 


There was a sign indicating where the snack booths were so I went in for a look. It was disappointing. The two booths had packed up and the room was small and cramped. Can’t have been much fun being stuffed into a corner.

On the bright side, there was a lady there who was selling twisty balloons. She was giving a few away free to the kids. One girl got an Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen) and I was handed a Spider-Man for the baby. Well, why not. I asked her how business was today and if the event was well attended… “ma ma teh ler” (so-so in Cantonese) was her reply. 

An enterprise promoting cargo bikes and street hawking

At the intersection of Stone Nullah Lane and Queens Road East, there was an interview taking place. It looked like a PR stunt for a company making “cargo bikes”, essentially stalls hitched onto a bicycle (think ice cream man, 1950’s style). A model of one was parked just outside Stone Nullah Tavern and another by the fruit farm chicken shop. I couldn’t quite figure whether the company plans to sell or rent them to small enterprises for use at flea markets and art fairs. Or perhaps it might be legal in Hong Kong to hawk wares on sidewalks and pavements again?


I’m really hoping that the St. James settlement (who managed the renovation of the Blue House and decides its fate) is going to hold nice events and not turn it into a dumpy, junky kind of event venue. I’m certainly less impressed with what they’ve done with the renovation (quality wise) vis-a-vis the Comix Home Base in Mallory Street where there is a theme, distinct sense of purpose, a nice library where kids hang out to read and updated Cha Chan Teng (茶餐厅)where you can have a decent milk tea in air conditioned comfort. 

Why you should engage La Station Coffee Shop to throw your next corporate party

La Station, one of my favourite neighbourhood coffee shops just celebrated their second anniversary. 
I met up with a friend, (founder of Ookus) at La Station for breakfast early in the week. As I was leaving, the eternally effervescent blonde manager Kat (a sort of Asian version of Jessica Alba) chased after me and presented me with a card.


“It’s our second anniversary this Thursday” she breathed, “will you come?”

I was in a bit of a hurry but promised that I’d be there. I marked it down in my calendar, it was a party running from 7-10pm on Thursday evening. What fun. I haven’t been out at night in the neighbourhood for quite a while.

We got there around 8pm and as we turned the corner at Eric Kayser onto Tai Yuen Street, a wonderful party scene greeted us. 


Very hip-looking friends of the owners had turned up in full force and they were drinking beers and champagne on the pavement, faces lit by the La Station signboard overhead. 

The perch counter near the fridge display area was converted into a makeshift bar where Alan bartended ice chilled beers in bottles, champagne and lemonade for the non-alcoholics. The funky lounge tunes made it seem as though everyone was queuing outside a newly opened club. 



Inside, people were gathered in chattering groups, taking selfies and photos of the fabulous food. 


There were mini sausage rolls, quiche, ham and cheese croissants and Croque Monsieurs. 


We sampled each one and it was all consistent of the La Station / Paul Lafayet standard. 


After half an hour, the desserts were put on display. This is Julian figuring out how they should sit on the tray.


Each dessert was no bigger than your thumb but packed a huge flavour punch. The chocolate squares of cake and ganache were moist and addictive. I had to restrain myself from devouring a second piece. 

These desserts were mini masterpieces… I kid you not. LPQ and Kayser attempts at these sweets are left in the dust.


Small person grabbed a Paul Lafayet creme brûlée and chiselled away at the caramelised topping, gleefully shoving it into her mouth. This is after Pete had gifted her a pink macaroon and she had polished off a ham cheese croissant. Well, it isn’t every day that she gets to indulge.

After the macaroon, a ham cheese croissant


Somehow the delicious breakfast food went super well with the booze and dessert. I can see how this scene can be replicated successfully elsewhere. Apparently the team has been hired frequently for stylish Lane Crawford events. 

La Station is one of those coffee shops that hires people who bother to remember your name and beverage preference. It’s this familiarity and excellent food and beverages that keep the loyal customers returning despite not having much of a seating area. If you do decide to sit at their counters, you’ll see that the tables are small but there’s room for your bags. Just hang them on the hooks underneath by your legs. 

I went for another beer which Alan happily obliged. 



These guys know how to throw a good party.

Here’s a shout out to their team – Pete, Kat, Binny, Stella, Alan, Vivian, Julian. It was a great party and we look forward to more 🙂

A day of accidents before the Black Rain

Yesterday the rain was torrential. The Hong Kong observatory first labelled it a yellow rain, then a red rain when the thunder and lightning rolled in, then the highest signal, black rain. Rivers ran outside my window and the rain was a constant drumming on every exposed surface. 

There wasn’t much wind, it wasn’t a typhoon so it was quite pleasant walking outside especially with Wellington boots on (or rain boots 水鞋 as they are known here) and a big umbrella. No need to dance around the puddles, with waterproof knee high boots on you can walk straight through them. Now my sister visiting from London understands why I buy them. The streets of Wanchai were not too busy and only those with a mission and an umbrella could be seen braving the water currents on every pavement. 

The day before black rain day, it was an overcast, cloudy and cool sort of day. For some reason there seemed to be a tension in the air, perhaps an expectation that something was going to happen. 
Two traffic accidents happened within minutes of each other, causing a massive gridlock along Wan Chai road and Queens Road East.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the accidents play out, oblivious to the honking all around them. Both involved taxis whose drivers had rolled down their windows and were swearing at the other vehicles. 



Incident 1:
A car was trying to parallel park in a relatively tight spot along Wan Chai Road and either hit or almost hit a taxi. I have no idea who was at fault but the taxi driver was yelling, cursing and making obscene gestures at the driver of the other car.  


Incident 2: A taxi had stopped by the bus stop to let a passenger alight. A van appears to have driven up and blocked it. The driver of the van can be seen confronting the taxi driver. Perhaps the taxi had cut the van off earlier and got a scrape. 

What is more interesting to you… the incident or the people watching the incident? Everyone loves standing by and watching a good scuffle.

Hong Kong government has a website showing traffic conditions on major roads. You can look at these cameras to plan your journey if the weather is looking unfavourable. 

A hike from the Wong Nai Chung reservoir to Violet Hill

It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.


We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.

Our Violet Hill hiking route – start at reservoir, end at Parkview
 It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.



After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.


Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.


And the foliage gradually changes.

Pine trees up on the hill

There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.

Twisted tree trunks that look like gnarled fingers
Baby fern emerging

This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).

Rocky path or just a deteriorating stone stair?

Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.



There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.


Then up a long stairway into the mist.

Young bamboo sprouts

On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.

After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.


Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.

The Violet Hill Trigonometry Point, Hong Kong


Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.

Panoramic view of Violet Hill trail

You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.

Down, down, down we go
Down we went back into the subtropical foliage

Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.

Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.

Beautiful lonely purple blue orchid
Whose glasses are these?

Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.


After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.


The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.


About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.



We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.


You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).


Direct from Pahang: where to find Musang King all year round in Hong Kong

Dedicated to Durians

I was at the “Wan Chai- Shibuya style” crossing, waiting to get to the other side of Hennessy Road. My eagle eyes and super sharp durian radar are always on “search mode” (sort of like the Terminator or Robocop, maybe like the spaceship scanners in the Matrix). What was that on the other side of the six lane road??


You can’t go wrong with a name like that. No mincing of words, no mystery, no guessing. A shop called Musang King must be all about the King, only the King and nothing else. Right?

I popped in for a look.

It was a small shop (replaced the Ice.licious whimsical popsicle store), just wide enough to fit the freezers and fridges, leaving enough room for clients to get in there, buy and leave. It’s not a cafe and there’s no reason to hang around. On the day I…

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