Category Archives: Activities for the weekend

The Peppa Pig Family Carnival – Disappoints and Disrupted by Typhoon 8

Last Thursday and Friday, there were staff (or volunteers) from Save the Children in their red t-shirts handing out brochures for the Peppa Pig Family Carnival in Lee Tung Avenue.

Now, if you’re a mother of any children between the ages of 2-8 years, you will know that this is absolutely irresistible to your kids. They will whine and demand to go, simultaneously declaring their love for the Peppa Pig characters. 

The staff were friendly, the colours of the panels vivid and the booths were well spaced out. However, the content lacked substance and there was nothing to take home unless you were coerced into making a purchase of useless and un-environmentally friendly Peppa Pig paraphernalia in the name of charity. 

What did the booths have? 

The Virtual Reality Booth

There was a Virtual reality booth which had the clunky goggles ($80 per go) you put on to look around. It was empty on the Friday and I didn’t think the goggles were too comfortable. There were only two goggles on display.

Peppa Pig String Art Zone

Then there is the string art zone, where the lady in charge explained that kids get some string and get to tie it around the metal protrusions to weave family bonds. Hmm. A bit abstract for kids, I struggled with the thought of it myself in a small dark booth.

The Kite Drawing Zone

Then there’s the kite drawing zone. Here for a $20 donation, kids get a small paper kite (not a real kite) each and sit down for a few minutes to decorate and then the kite gets hung on a big kite board with metal pins.

So all that individual effort goes up onto a collective board and it’s an instagrammable moment for the organisers but what does the kid get as a memory? 

“Mama they took my kite away. I got nothing.” 

Perhaps the organisers would like to reconsider their activities and strategies to have something for the kids to take home. The string bonding thing is also quite worthless even though the concept probably sounded interesting on paper.

The most striking and entertaining activity on display was the pipe telephone. So simple, free and fun. They could’ve made it more like a 3-D maze but it’s a good effort.


There are different coloured pipes linking one side of the board to the other, at different heights to for adult/child play.

Well, there was a stage and some music and dancing going on, on Saturday but baby was asleep in the sling and I gave it a pass.

What made #1 happy was the opportunity for a photo with Peppa’s family.


Here’s how the overhead kite display looked during Typhoon 3, I wish the wind had been strong enough to make them take flight.

Wanchai Lockdown: July 1st celebration what to do and President Xi Jin Ping’s visit

Tip: Get your walking shoes on and walk everywhere.

This weekend is especially crazy in Wanchai due to the Chinese President’s visit. Police are all over Wan Chai, in the MTR stations, patrolling the streets, policing  bad street parking. It’s never been so quiet on the roads on a weekday. No honking of cars, no fire engines and ambulances roaring by every half an hour. 

The MTR station is chock-a-block, full of people every minute of the day. No one wants to use the buses due to diversions and possibly long traffic jams in any given direction. 

If you’re planning on catching the fireworks in Wanchai, it’s best you secure your spot well before 7pm when the lockdown begins. And police have full discretion over when the roads re-open… it could be early tomorrow morning. Here’s my hand drawn map (based on information  from the traffic department) to give you an idea of the chaos that could ensue given that half of Wanchai could be closed tomorrow evening. 

Road closures anticipated around Wan Chai from 7pm onwards on Saturday

The area around the Convention centre and Grand Hyatt and Renaissance hotels is already on lockdown as the President is staying there with his entourage. The hosting and toasting will also happen there so count on the roads being exclusively used for anyone going to the party. 

The Stubbs road closure for heavy goods vehicles and all lay by areas is in anticipation of lots of people heading up to the Peak to watch the fireworks. It will really be mass pandemonium up there since the weather is perfect for fireworks right now. 

Here’s a few events happening in Wanchai. (I took these from the HKSAR 20 website which has the full list.)


This dinner is on tonight at 6pm. But we’re not invited so just stay away!


Then the VIP entertainment at 8pm. It’s on TV so you can watch it at home (if you have a TV).

Some other celebratory stuff going on in Wan Chai over the weekend:


A dragon dance on Sunday at Southorn Playground between 4-9pm.


A football match you can view tomorrow (Saturday) between 9am -2.30pm at Southorn Playground.


Free rides on the Star Ferry between TST and Wan Chai and TST and Central all Sunday when the festivities are over and the VIPs have left. 

Urban Canvas and School Art Exhibit at Comics Home Base 動漫基地

At the Comics Home Base 動漫基地 on Mallory Street, Urban Canvas has put up a booth along side an exhibition of artworks by children and teenagers from different school districts. The resulting art is very interesting and provides an insight into what local kids are into and how they view their city. 

The opening installation is a large wall of graffiti with a quote from world famous graffiti artist Banksy. 

“Graffiti is an honest way to express yourself as an artist. It doesn’t cost much to create, you don’t need special knowledge to appreciate and you don’t have to pay to see it!”


Nice one. Take a look at the more elegant graffiti around Wanchai. (It’s my personal collection, let me know if there are any nice ones I’ve missed).

There’s one gallery space dedicated to Cantonese opera rod puppets. I’ve personally always found these to be somewhat freakish to look at but suppose they are essential to storytelling. Move over Jim Henson. 

Is this a demon? Evil monkey? Sinister robot?
A Buddhist kung fu master with the Goddess of Mercy
Taoist priest

In another gallery, students used cardboard to shape life sized portraits using a lettering technique. I thought it showed the textures and reliefs beautifully. So simple yet it required careful measurements and cutting skills to get the shapes right. A great statement of versatility in an everyday packing material.


The next gallery featured clay work. Students were given head models on which to depict a theme or storyline. None of these had titles so I’m making up my own.

Harlequin or Alice in Wonderland?
Global warming. The last island for the next generation.
Chinese opera & Canteen food frustration

There are many more of these busts, some more twisted than these. I highly recommend you check them out. 

The final student artwork is of lampshades. Each red lampshade (typically used in the markets), has a painted interior reflecting some aspect of Hong Kong. I really liked this one showcasing the typical constituents of a meal at a cha chaan teng (茶餐厅,local coffee shop). 

Lampshade – HK 茶餐厅 food theme
Various lampshades

If you’re planning to be in Wanchai and would like to check it out, here are the exhibits and opening hours. 

The Urban Canvas exhibit is a small panelled display with photos of the collaborators. There’s a short clip with the artists talking and explaining their conceptualisation of the project. There’s also a booth up with two staff to promote their app. I had already downloaded it earlier in the week but they can guide you if you need some help with that. If you show them that you’ve got the app, you get a free roll of tape. There are three to choose from, each with a unique design of an old Hong Kong profession or image. If you “like” their FB page, you get a set of 4 postcards to decorate your own stall shutters. Very thoughtful and creative.

The Urban Canvas project promoted collaboration between the city’s young artists with old shops plying their trade around Wan Chai or Central. The artist gets to decorate the shutters of the shop with a graffiti style spray. The image reflects the shop’s trade, at least stylistically. It’s fun and it helps shop’s stand out when they are shut. Of course this means that you’ll need to go after office hours if you want to see it for yourself. After hours could be the best time of day to be on the streets anyway.  

Alternatively download the Urban Canvas app and see them all on your screen. 

Urban Canvas app
Urban Canvas Wan Chai Tours

World Music Day: Barcella playing at 1563, Hopewell Center (Who is Barcella?)

A new signboard went up outside Hopewell Center advertising the events for World Music Day.

If you’re free on Saturday the 17th of June, you might want to catch Barcella performing Puzzle -a French singer- live on stage at 3.30pm for free. He’s subsequently performing at 8pm at 1563 for a cover charge of HKD 280. 

You can have a look at some of his colourful and dramatic, satirical videos online but this video Ma Douce featuring a sexy stripper is particularly entertaining.


If you don’t understand French (I don’t), the lyrics would be completely lost on you. It’s part of Le French May so a French artist is not at all surprising. Here are the lyrics to the song Puzzle translated into English (courtesy of google translate). Maybe the lyrics might still be lost on you 🙂

PUZZLE by BARCELLA

Cursed Poet Seeks a Supreme Ruler

Melancholy seeks fragile heart

Origami looking for abyss

But how to make the pair?

Tapatoudi seeks end of film

Toutifrouti looks for vitamin

Small Mowgli seeks solid lianas

To get laid in the air

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

Knotted throat looking heart blooms

Kiss stolen looking nursery

Timidity cherhce grain d’folie

To sing the misery

Facalam seeks confetti

Pockieman looking for Dame Woggy

Girl injured looking for disease

To probe the mystery

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Alexandrine

Belly empty cherhce gingerbread

Mantoline looking for melodist

Melanine looks beautiful licorice

To build rainbow

Paste-to-modeler in Paste-à-fix

Catapult seeks cataclysm

Grain of beauty seeks between your thighs

To empty hot air balloon

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Too small

Point

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

—————-//—————–

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. 

Preserve the Curve: Wan Chai Architecture

In Hong Kong, the grubbiest residential buildings stand insolently next to flashy skyscrapers, mirrors reflecting sunlight and steel glinting like unsheathed swords against the sky.
Buildings weren’t always designed to maximise square footage by being square. Neither did they incorporate angles which could “cut” their neighbours feng shui. The rounded corners are a style snapshot in time 1960’s or before, incorporating the best design for feng shui… especially in Wan Chai where roads and intersections can go off at crazy angles.

A few old and modern buildings retain the curves,   let’s take a look at the ones in Wan Chai.

Here are buildings that have incorporated the curve into the design.

1. Queens road east & Anton Street

Nice pink curve

 

2. Church on intersection of Johnston Road, Hennessy and Arsenal Street 

Church with rounded corner

3. Johnston Road  and Fleming Road 

Tai Yau Plaza, nicely curved

4. Newly renovated Takan Lodge, Johnston Road

Takan Lodge, nice curve

5. Curved building on Hennessy, Stewart Road intersection

Large pink curved building

6. On Wan Chai road, near Wan Chai outdoor market

Curved Building near Wanchai market

 

7. Almost circular building, Johnston- Fleming Road intersection

8. The building on Johnston Road and Wan chai Road & Hopewell Center


Of course the only completely round building in Wanchai is Hopewell Center.

Then there are the buildings that “cheat” and incorporate a rounded ledge.

Curved ledge, Tai Wong East Street
Curved ledge for the Jenga building
Curved ledge, near Wanchai mtr
Curved ledge, Johnston Road and Tai Wo Street
Curved ledge, Lockhart Road
Curved ledge, Lockhart Road

 

Curved Ledge, Lockhart road and Tonnochy Road

 

Curved ledge, corner of Fenwick & Hennessy, Wanchai
Curved ledge, corner of Fenwick & Hennessy

Try spotting these buildings on your next walk around Wanchai.

You can read a little more on the fate of a curved Pawn Shop. It’s already been torn down.

There’s also the haunted house of Wanchai which is curved. However it’s not accessible to the public as Hopewell is constructing its new hotel and convention center, so you can read about it here.

The building in this photo no longer exists.

A very famous curved building, Old Wanchai market.

Wanchai market for all your chinese lunar new year purchases

The Chinese lunar new year brings a shopping bonanza to Wan chai market. Everyday no matter the weather, people turn up in droves to look at home decorations and the latest lunar new year fashion. It is tradition to wear new clothes during the new year period, and this extends to underwear and home furnishings. Yup, you can get almost anything in the “Chinese new year red”.

Here are some photos to show you what it’s like.


First up, underwear. If you fancy a bit of gold “fuk“( pronounced foook meaning wealth and luck), well, you’re in luck. Go superman.


Next up, red socks, stockings and slippers. It’s a bit chilly and these red footwear and accessories might get you a few compliments. 


The stalls selling kids traditional clothing get a lot of attention. Lots of mommies just have to stop and browse. You’ll see lots of kids in traditional garb walking around, schools are asking kids to come in festive attire.


Brighten up your interior and sofa with red cushions? Lots of cushions getting lots of attention.


Red ribbons for your own designs.

All sorts of hanging items.

If you’re looking for lanterns for your doorway, hit Tai Yuen street.

This stall selling cute roosters can be found along Cross street


This is the seasonal stall. Usually a hat shop, they convert fully to CNY decorative items for the 3 week season.


If you’re looking for festive snack trays, you’ll find them at the household shops along Wan Chai road.


I was wondering why this bakery had developed a mass following, people were hogging the pavement. Everyone was waiting for 5pm when discounts apply to all the baked goods.

These baked puff snacks in particular seemed to be getting a lot of attention.

All this lasts until Chinese New Year which is on the 28th of January. Many stall owners will be on vacation for two weeks after that, visiting relatives in China or just taking a break. Everything gets a little pricier during this time, but as chinese people say, it’s only once a year!

Let’s not forget the goodies for the table, red melon nuts and gold chocolates.