The biggest storm so far of 2018 and the last two decades was fascinating to witness.
This was a great test of urban infrastructure, a lesson for architects and engineers, a real way for the community to bond through helping each other or simply keeping in touch.
Yesterday evening, I spent it at Shek O beach. The swells were increasing in size, reaching almost 2 meters in the short time we were there at low tide.
It had been an idyllic day, hot but sunny and somehow, knowing that a massive storm was soon to strike, most people were out making the most of it. Wanchai on a Saturday afternoon had an almost carnival like atmosphere.
Here are a few sights of the aftermath in Wan Chai last night.
Some dangers still lurking above and beneath your feet. Anyone heading out should wear only sturdy shoes and be highly alert for possible loose items that could cause injury.
Broken, broken, broken.
Overall things weren’t too bad in Wan Chai. The trees were the most affected, and a few buildings will need to sort their windows out. Shui On Center needs to work on their lifts and air con.
All closed up at the MTR station
Tree leaning against a bench at Lee Tung Avenue.
And I’ve now figured out why the bins in Wan Chai are still in the same place. Someone thought of tethering them to the nearest railing. Such a simple and clearly effective idea. 👍😀Good thinking.
The two largest bookstores in Wan Chai are JP books (right by exit A3 on Johnston road) and Cosmos books which is on Lun Fat and Johnston, more or less opposite Fook Lam Moon restaurant.
The JP bookshop has only one entrance and is a multilevel shop with 3 floors. The ground floor is where the entrance is and you’re required to head up to the first floor and upwards (ie if you want to get to the kids section be prepared to walk up 4 flights of stairs).Cosmos books has a similar layout, it’s a massive sprawl of books set out on two floors, in the basement and on the first floor. The ground floor serves as the main entrance.
So going to the bookstore, you’re faced with these two entrances.
If you’re heading out to the bookshop to pick up a few travel or summer reading books for yourself or the kids, remember to leave the stroller at home. These bookshops have comprehensive collections but are definitely not stroller nor disabled friendly.
Without resorting to couch purchasing on Amazon, what would your stroller options be then?
Kelly and Walsh opened recently in Pacific Place. It’s tucked into a corner sort of opposite and one level up from the cinema. That bookstore has aisles that would make mothers smile…. and an excellent selection of English books.
Alternatively if you’re in Wan Chai this weekend, you can brave the crowds and head to the book fair at the Exhibition center.
I happened to be walking by the John Denver Tree (technically it’s a Banyan) the other day when a shiny plaque caught my eye.
It looks new and much bigger than the previous one. The LCSD must have replaced it.
Does this generation know who John Denver is? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they included a QR code on the plaque to link to his most famous song… or a visit by all the artists who planted the other 622 trees in the Greening Wanchai scheme? That would be a concert not to be missed.
It would be really cool if all the trees had plaques in them or were dedicated to specific entertainment legends.. perhaps the public and LCSD could use them as landmarks and everyone would take better care of them.
Check out my trees of Wan Chai page (yeah I’ll be adding to it gradually, it’s really not easy to take nice photos of trees…) and go see this tree at the intersection of Wan Chai road, Johnston Road and Fleming Road. It’s along the Tram tracks.
There were three articles describing how much income, interest (as in wanting to know, not rate) and inebriation would be happening in Wan Chai over these 2 holiday weekends.
From financial conferences to lighting exhibitions, expensive Art shows (Art Basel, see some pics below) to the biggest Rugby sporting event in Hong Kong, a rush of events has brought a huge number of visitors to Hong Kong and specifically to Wan Chai.
Yes, it’s the location. The HK exhibition center is here, the bars and restaurants, the red light districts all within a wandering over some pedestrian bridges.
The prediction of a boom in clients to the bars, prostitutes, late night love motels must send all on that short stretch of Lockhart to Fenwick into a giddy madness.
I wanted to go check out the scene and take a few photos for you, but I sprained my ankle badly on Friday and am unable to put any weight on it.
If you wake early enough on Sunday I’m sure you’ll get to see the “after party scene”. In the meantime I’ll just have to read about it in the news.
Bowen Road has been undergoing some remodelling and renovations recently, mostly slope reinforcements and a refurbishment of decade-old toilets 👍.
But still no concession stands or octopus pay drink machines anywhere, which would be nice if LCSD could address. (I mean sometimes we forget to bring our water bottles and snacks for kids and ourselves…. how about allowing a pop up juice bar- coffee shop with croissants and bo-lo-baos that operates on weekends? Or a food truck?) Anyway, on my walk yesterday I noted the completion of a new playground off the fitness path. I really don’t know what to make of it. I think it’s neither here nor there.
only two rocking horses and a small platform that's not even a slide. Oh yeah that's exciting. Yawn.
A badminton court surrounded by trees. Hmm, great for blocking the wind I suppose but kind of dark and enclosed.
It seems like a bit of a tick the box we have these facilities type thing. What a waste of money. To get kids and parents to go down those stairs to get to rocking horses and then back up is probably too much for most Hong Kong families. Mums with babies and toddlers wouldn’t go if they had a stroller. Who is this for exactly? Someone who has a kid of 2-5yrs and a 2 teenagers who play badminton?
ok, the space and area layout is sort of awkward but they should have done a fun looking playground based on a theme. Or just put in an awesome swing set with a view.
Maintaining it is quite a job in itself too. Poor sweepers looking at the stairs are likely to hate it.
Wish those in charge had been a little more innovative in design, then maybe it would be worth the effort.
If you want to see what inspiring playgrounds look like, check out the pics at the end of this post.
By the light of the full moon.. a vampire comes out to play…
Lee Tung Avenue has had great success in creating a public space where small, interesting art and music projects can draw the attention of a steady stream of people. Many are locals, young couples who visit in the evening for a dessert. Some are older people with their helpers, they occupy the benches to soak up the late morning sun. Then there are families, who use this pedestrianised street as a conduit to the schools. They often return after school, in the evenings to run around*.
Halloween has become an increasingly significant occasion for commercial festivity in Hong Kong. It’s nice because it involves the children and all that fancy get up is fun, but it doesn’t teach them much about American culture or what it means. Local and international schools both celebrate it and kids come home with drawings of pumpkins and bats and broomsticks. It’s almost as big a celebration as Christmas.
I thought it was fabulous that Lee Tung Avenue took a different approach to their display. The organisers chose an art installation with significance to both the mid-autumn festival and Halloween. Titled “Museum of the Moon“, a large blown up rendition of 5 km earth’s only moon surface is suspended from the arch and illuminated from within at night.
For the Halloween weekend, Ophelia was advertising a blood sucking gory time on Saturday night and Tuesday night. That vampire was co-opted into posing with visitors along the pedestrian alleyway by the light of the moon.
It was a funny and entertaining sight. The crowds were out enjoying the cool weather and the scene… as was I!
Halloween night walk in Wan Chai.
*Wan Chai really needs a good quality children’s playground, will LCSD please consider this carefully and install a great one at Southorn playground when you’re finished ripping it up for the underground Mall? All the future generated income could be reflected in quality of life an awesome playground would bring to families in the area. And I’m not referring to those red yellow plastic things you presently install all over. Please take a look at the Megan Daley park in Chicago or even this wonderful bamboo installation (since Hong Kong is so fond of using bamboo for scaffolding) at the restaurant Triplets in Chiang Mai.
(Sept 2017) The pollution was bad for the last week in Hong Kong. Two typhoons threatened to come but dissipated to the South and North respectively.
We decided to go on a leisurely family paced hike from Parkview down to Quarry Bay. The incentive? Lunch at the end of the journey. This walk isn’t the most scenic or spectacular, but it is all paved and mostly shaded, which makes it a good walk with kids. It’s downhill, uphill, downhill and round several bends. There’s lots of spiders and bugs to look at along the way but no toilets til you get to the summit. Bring water and snacks for the kids so that they don’t complain too much along the way and get a power (sugar) boost if necessary.
The view gets a little more scenic once you’ve reached the summit and start to head back down the hill towards Quarry Bay. The path is a proper road that’s wide and not too steep.
Half way down, the exposed bits of path allow you a view towards the big buildings and beyond. It would have been a better view if it weren’t for the pollution.
As it was a sunny sort of day, I was grateful that the shade from trees resumed after a few minutes for the rest of the hike.
On the way, you’ll walk past the Biodiversity museum. The gates were open and it seemed like there was an event of some sort taking place, but I didn’t go in. If you go, please let me know what it’s like inside.
Further down the path, look out for some amusing signs.
This sign says “Do not Pick wild mushrooms for consumption”
This one says “Be considerate to speak softly”
Just so you know, I didn’t see any wild animals or wild mushrooms that day. I did look, but they must have been picked or fed already.
Pretty soon, you’re back in civilisation and the residential homes are in view.
A small temple at the end of the path marks the end of the trail and the start of hustle bustle Quarry Bay.
We went up over the overhead bridge, across the road and to the right. Take the left at the second traffic junction you come to and follow the road down and rojndcto the right. We ended up at the Butcher’s Club opposite Swire’s swanky office building for a hearty lunch of burgers and duck fat fries.
This walk takes approximately 2 hours at an adult leisure walking pace, add an hour if you’re bringing toddlers who wish to inspect every insect they see.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty