Category Archives: events

Trees of Hong Kong and Southern China

To help me identify the trees of Wan Chai a little better, I decided to attend the talk by Sally Grace Bunker and Richard Saunders at the Royal Geographical Society.

They were introducing their book which was a culmination of almost eight years of work by Sally. She’s a trained but largely self taught botanical artist, who depicts the full loveliness of the tree and it’s various functional parts. It reminds me very much of the work by William Farquhar (who drew a tree very much loved by me).

Some scenes:

Autographing the books
Full house
A glass of wine before the talk

It was a good session, full house with rapt attention and lots of questions. Both speakers gave a very personal and passionate speech about their involvement in the project and in their own areas of interest. The slides they presented were insightful and highlighted the work that had yet to be done.

My only issue with the book is it’s size. It’s a huge heavy hard copy that is good for the library or the coffee table. But most of us don’t have the space to be keeping reference material. So one question that was posed to them was whether there would be a “travel version” of the book. Sally didn’t dismiss the idea…

They’ll be speaking at a few more events to promote their book so just google to see when the next event is.

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Updates around Wan Chai

I’m still wary walking around this week as there are still lots of broken off tree branches, loose signage and chips of granite and glass on the pavement. It’s already a whole lot better, salute to the cleaning crew who work with such clinical efficiency.

I am feeling sad today for a particular tree that has been uprooted in Wan Chai. The massive and shady tree that stood as tall as the Hennessy Primary School looks to have a similar fate to the one in the news in TST. It has provided shelter to taxi drivers on their mid day break, pedestrians who just need that cover for the crossover and a green canopy (for those looking over that crazy intersection that cars need to manoeuvre) to get on to Wan Chai road from Fleming road.

Bye bye tree 😢. Corner of Takan Lodge[[[[[[
On Lee Tung Avenue, all the smaller trees that fell over are back upright and the lanterns have made their reappearance. Nothing’s gonna stop the commercial celebration of lantern festival this weekend.

The dog mascot stands sentry over the lanterns at Lee Tung Avenue

At the Blue House this Saturday evening, there’s a gathering for the mid autumn aka lantern festival. The promo leaflet is all in chinese. Essentially there’s a lantern competition for the best handmade one, a dumpling making activity and lots of general hanging around with the residents of the Blue House. I rang the organizer and was a little disappointed that you can show up but none of the listed items were actual “activities”. She postured that if you lived in the neighborhood and had “nothing else to do that evening…” you could drop by. 🤔

She also said that everyone had to bring their own food to share with others as no snacks are provided…

I attended a mid autumn festival village party in Shek O last year and it was a marvellous effort by the community to putting on a fun event for families and a whole spectrum of society, with sitting areas for eating Tong yun for the duration of the evening (made and shared for a small donation of $10-50 per person). And kids got to help out too. There were games areas with an array of prizes, a beautiful area where everyone displayed the lanterns they made. Unfortunately this year the devastation inflicted by the typhoon is so severe that the residents will probably not be in the mood to celebrate.

I’m curious to see how the Blue House organizes this and whether they can make it really nice or if it turns out to be a sloppy sort of event confined to pavements with no fun or colour to it. Let’s see.

Up they went and down they came…

Just two days ago, the work men and ladies were busy prepping for the upcoming Autumn aka mooncake – lantern festival. Huge lanterns the size of a person appeared, alongside 8 platform lifts and 2 massive chair lifts to allow the lanterns to be hung from the steel wires that suspend across Lee Tung Avenue.

Here are some visuals of the rather massive exercise…

Then, two days later… news of two powerful storms heading towards Hong Kong.

With a super typhoon set to strike possibly on Sunday, no chances are being taken. Take’em down!

What fun and I wonder if it matters how the lanterns are arranged when suspended because it’s all a mess now. The guys just marched over and threw them up in a heap. Will they just leave them there to the elements or secure something in the basement?

Heading out to the bookstore? Know this…

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.

The Wan Chai scene in April

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.

News Articles:

Socially irresponsible drinking’: Sevens means big business for Wan Chai bars

Inside Wan Chai’s love hotels during Hong Kong Sevens week

Rohypnol and rip-offs: the dangers of Wan Chai during Sevens week

Here’s a video describing the articles above.

The darker side of the Hong Kong Sevens Weekend

Here are some of the Art pieces I liked at Art Basel 2018.

Halloween celebrations in Lee Tung Avenue 

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. 

New victims?
Yeah, he tasted real good…

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.

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*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

The fantastic playground at the Megan Daley Park in Chicago
Bamboo constructed playground at Triplets in Chiang Mai

Typhoon season: Huff, puff, blow your house down…

All the excitement about a typhoon 8 this Sunday is now dissipating as Typhoon Mawar has been blown northerly and will hit Shantou and the coast of China instead. Perhaps we’ll get some rain in Hong Kong but that’s looking less and less likely now as the storm track shifts. It’s now a T1 and might not get much above that.


I was away when Typhoons Hato and Pakhar blew into town, Hato caused a 2 hour delay in my flight take off time and we sat in the plane the entire duration of the lightning strikes and heavy downpour at the airport. In the robust metal tube of the new A350 the storm didn’t seem all that intimidating. 

Friends and neighbours updated me on the disruptions and damage all over (I’m sure you’ve seen the footage circulated online by now). We secured our windows and doors before we left but neglected a few pieces of laundry which were blown to the floor and soaked on our return. Our balcony plants were snapped and decimated by the strong winds and heavy downpour but the flat generally seemed in good shape on our return. 

Mr Rammstein took a walk around Queens Road East area after the typhoon Hato blew over and sent me a few pictures. Credit and effort goes to him for these.

Completely devoid of people at Hopewell Center
A neighbour’s broken window

And now of some fallen trees and branches pictures.

Snapped branches of trees at the Wu Chung house bus stop
Tidy pile of leaves and branches outside bank of china
Leaves and branches by the old post office recycle bins
Branches and splinters near Green Common
By the ruttonjee hospital exit on Wan chai road

These fallen branches were all cleared up soon after Hato blew by. But clearing up after Pakhar has taken considerably longer. There are still fallen branches and leaves on sidewalks up by Kennedy road and tree cutters are doing their best on Stubbs road creating large logs out of fallen tree trunks. (You can see this if you hop on the 15 bus towards the Peak from Wan chai).


Many of these trees are still with their snapped branches dangling at crazy angles. It’s probably best to avoid walking near them in the current weather as you don’t know when the rot sets in or the wind might blow it in your direction. Obviously the clearing up will take several more weeks due to the huge amount of work all over the island and beyond.