Category Archives: City walks

The John Denver Tree gets a new plaque

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.

If you don’t know who John Denver is, this is one of his most famous songs... and it happens to be my dad’s favorite.

This is another of his famous songs which I really like, unfortunately and ironically, he died in a plane crash.

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.

Advertisements

A very strange playground off Bowen Road

Bowen Road has been undergoing some remodelling and renovations recently, mostly slope reinforcements and a refurbishment of decade-old toilets đź‘Ť.

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.

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. 

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.

Chinese New Year 2017 Lantern Display at the Avenue

….looks just like the 2016 Chinese New Year display. It is still very impressive and they did a good job keeping those lanterns (customised with the name Lee Tung Avenue on them) looking clean, smart and surprisingly new. It makes sense to recycle them especially since they are large and look like decent quality to begin with. 


I have to say it really sets the mood of the street, it’s nicely festive and sets it up for great photos no matter the weather or angle.


They also got out the faux Oriental Botero sculptures along the street. I’ve seen several tourists and locals posing for pictures beside these statues.


My friend NDS who runs a corporate florist in London was particularly impressed with these cherry blossom trees. I said “hmm.. it could be fake.” And she said “Nooooo way”.

So guess what. I took a close up.


Yup, sorry ND, they are real trees but fake flowers stuck onto the branches. I guess we’re both half right and half wrong?!!

It must have taken a lot of manual work to complete that project.

Finally, cast a look next door at Hopewell Center across the street.


And decide where you might like to take your selfies or bring your visitors for a stroll at night.

The convoluted passage to Wan Chai Star Ferry Terminal 

The construction of the East-West bypass is a massive reclamation project that spans  from Central through Wan Chai to Causeway Bay. It’s not just impressive because of the quantity of land being reclaimed but also the simultaneous complexity of constructing an underground tunnel for vehicles and the MTR system. First they had to dredge the harbour, then fill it in with copious quantities of earth, now they are digging it up again to install huge steel and concrete piling to create the underground cavern. 

  
The equipment required for the task is equally impressive. Massive barges with claws that release as much earth as a house for the dredging and filling, huge cranes and excavators, for the piling work. It’s so interesting to watch these large machines in full operation, except that the noise and potential dust and fumes forbid you from lingering too long.

  
All this construction has certainly inconvenienced residents and tourists alike. The constant pounding and hum of diesel engines are certainly annoying but worse is the re-routing of pedestrians wanting to get to the Wan Chai Star Ferry terminal. This terminal has already been moved out from its former location and juts prominently into the harbour. It is already a real trek to get there (in a way similar to Central Star Ferry). Now, with the pedestrian re-route, it’s almost discouraging passengers from using it… Reserving it only for the unsuspecting and already committed (too far from Wan Chai MTR and way too difficult to get to the bus stop/ terminus). 

Look at this.

 

well, at least they put up a map
 
What should be a direct and accessible form of Hong Kong’s public transportation system has become very awkward to get to.  It is completely wheel chair and pram accessible but if you’re the one pushing and not the one sitting then it’s a fair amount of work to get there. Assuming that 1) eventually they’ll create walkways along Tonnochy Road and 2) shift the bus terminus to back where it was diagonally opposite the Hong Kong Convention Center when the work is done, it should be a lot easier to figure out where the ferry terminal is.

  
Apparently the plan is to put a public park and walkway all along the waterfront connecting pedestrians from Kemnedy Town/ Sai Ying Pun all the way to Causeway Bay. A reflection of what’s been done on Kowloon side. 

  
In the meantime, the Wan Chai Star Ferry Terminal and the bus terminal is stranded in a construction site. These aren’t the nicest ways to get to the convention Center. You’re better off walking over from Wan Chai MTR.

I hope the concessions for those food trucks don’t start until the construction is done because business will be tough when it’s dust and heavy machinery in your holiday photographs.