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

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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.

Ceramics shop pop up in Wan Chai Road

Update: it is now September and the ceramic shop lease has run out. They are no longer here. It is now a sock and towel shop for a few months!


As stores vacate their spaces due to rent or other business decisions, landlords keen to keep the space in use and tenanted seem able to lease them out for short periods of time. It’s almost like an Airbnb for retail. 

The tenants rent by days til their goods are sold or by month until the landlord finds a long term tenant. It keeps the neighbourhood lively and interesting… there’s never a shop shuttered for too long.

Ceramic shops seem to do fairly well as pop up stores, fragile but non-perishable. Here’s one that appeared on Wan Chai road last month.


Matching sauce bowls and soup spoons. All in pretty patterns.


Chopstick rests and dipping bowls.


Mugs and other random household items.


Lots of plates and bowls.


Small soup bowls in various colours and prints. 


Small dinner plates and heat tolerant dishes for baking.


More plates and bowls with lids for kids.


They also have plain white crockery.


Then I spied more appetiser dishes..


Suggested pairings for your dining set. 

It looks pretty fun to mix and match your place settings! And not expensive either:)

Find the shop here:

The Satisfaction of Samsen

This Thai casual style eatery is NOT kid friendly. Do not bring your toddlers or babies, there are no high chairs (bar chairs), no kiddy utensils and no kids menu. So you gotta go alone or on a date!

Note: it’s open Mon-Sat lunch 12 noon to about 2.30pm then dinner 6-10pm. Shut on Sundays.

We have done takeaway from Samsen several times, all delightful eating even out of cardboard boxes. The only dishes Samsen doesn’t allow takeout for are their noodle soups or “boat noodles”. 

One day last week, I found myself liberated and alone for lunch. I gleefully took myself to Samsen at 12 noon and promptly got seated at the bar counter. Perfect. 


There are hooks thoughtfully placed beneath the counter to hang your bag (love restaurants that do this) and I had a great view of the working kitchen which always helps to manage time and expectations. 


It was a boiling hot day. The Thai iced tea was perfectly shaved and sweetened with just the right kick of lime acidity. It was a pleasure I sought to extend by drinking it very slowly. 


My Wagyu beef boat noodles arrived. Oooh first….inhale the aromas. Then follow up with a taste of the soup. Be careful not to slurp it all down. The Wagyu beef was super tender and the beef balls chewy. The noodles were done just right, smooth texture with a good touch of elasticity. 

The bowl looked small but by the time I got to the end of the broth I felt strangely satiated. 

No dessert for me today but definitely next time.

Samsen requires no introduction given its high profile chef and nightly queues for dinner. It’s a thumbs up from me, a welcome addition to the Wanchai dining scene. 

I’m already craving the next visit. 

The last day of July 2017: Monday Night in Wan Chai

On a very hot and quite polluted Monday evening, the sidewalks of Queens Road East were particularly busy near the Indigo Hotel and Wu Chung House. People were hanging around a place they had no business to be hanging around. Those pavements are narrow and at busy road intersections.

I guess the safety aspect was marginally addressed by the peak hour slow moving traffic. The pedestrian traffic was also similarly slowed by the concentration of humans occupying a sidewalk that is lined with recycling bins on one side and trees on another.

Look at this:


I was literally having to wade through a bunch of zombies to get to the bus stop. 

If you crossed the road, the situation wasn’t much better. 


All these zombies milling around anxiously looking at their phones. No one acknowledged each other, though they all knew why they were there. Perhaps they were fighting to the death online and that makes them enemies in real life too.

I sneaked a look at one of the player’s screens. POKEMON.