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.
If you’re looking for a simple non-fancy wetsuit in an easy to find location, Kamachi Pro Sport is a great place to pick one up.
Prices are relatively inexpensive and quality is decent, they have several of the usual designs (with or without zip, front or back zip, long or short, black or patterned etc).
The two lady staff are helpful and friendly, mostly Cantonese speaking but with the simple selection, it isn’t difficult to point out what you need in simple hand gestures. There’s a small area at the back of the shop where you can try on the suits behind a curtain.
The swimsuits and rash guards occupy the top hanging shelf and the wetsuits for kids and adults are below. The selection looked fuller in the summer, it that’s probably because it was summertime swimming season and more stock and sizes were out on display.
Here’s a kids wetsuit. Same one we got for my kid except that it’s now on 20% discount.
Here’s a sleeveless neoprene vest for adults. Ah….., it reminds me of the days when I used to go diving off Malaysia.
These are the adult rashguards (kid sizes also available).
And these are some exercise mats for yoga or just general stretching. Very cheap, less than 100 HKD per mat.
The shop sells other swim related stuff like goggles, swim hats, and dive related stuff like wet shoes. They also have a small selection of exercise training equipment.
This is what it looks like from the front, it’s between two tea shops on Johnston Road opposite Tai Yau Plaza, right on the intersection of Johnston and Wanchai Road.
More locations are listed on their card ☝️if you’re not in Wan Chai.
It was Friday night and we didn’t want to head out for dinner. My in-laws were here and we couldn’t decide what to eat. No surprise when #1 jumped and whooped for joy when pizza was put forward as a suggestion.
Pizza Express, unsurprisingly, was full. The table availability only started at 9pm. Perfect! A chance to try something new.
I remember seeing this little pizza place with funky lettering called Jacomax on the junction of Hennessy and Luard, a very bold location. The exterior was sort of dark and it didn’t look that welcoming but I had a look at the menu when it first opened and it looked like a very traditional pizza parlour with all the conventions.
So off we went to order pizza!
Some photos of the quirky interior decor .
Small person was mesmerised by this Star Wars infused painting. “What’s the stormtrooper doing?” This painting which looks rather grand scenic style was quite unexpected and a nice touch. I asked the lady waitress where they got it but all she knew was that her boss chose it.
We left with 3 pizzas. A 13″ magherita for small person, a 13″ Hawaiian and tuna half half and a large 20″ pizza salami and mushroom half half.
We lugged the boxes home and ate with so much relish that I forgot to take a photo of them. Well, my hands were full of pizza. 🙂
Click here for Jacomax branches, opening hours, telephone numbers and location.
(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.
It’s getting quite warm now in Hong Kong so hikes need to be done early in the morning or on a cloudy day. On Sunday morning we got bounced out of bed for a hike up to Violet Hill at 7.30am.
We got the taxi to drop us off at Wong Nai Chung reservoir, which is on the left of the road towards Parkview. From there, walk around the reservoir’ path (stop to look at the terrapins in the water if you wish) and follow it to the steps just beyond. This is the trailhead.
It starts off nice and green. You will see the steps amidst all the foliage.
After a few minutes uphill, we came across a rest hut. Stop here if you need to catch your breath. But there isn’t much to see so the girls decided it was best to carry on.
Up and up the steps, very quickly we were up looking over the buildings.
And the foliage gradually changes.
There’s a mild uphill for a bit on a meandering path. Walk slowly here to admire some flora.
This walk has some unpaved bits, but it’s not hard for children. We had an 8 year-old, a 6 year-old, a 4 year-old and an 8 month-old with us (in a sling).
Spot the flowers and bush fruits on the walk, keep your eyes open as there really aren’t many of them. The flowers are often found low to the ground, easier for pollination by crawling insects.
There were also a few fungal fruiting bodies among the dead leaves. Not sure if any of these are edible so please leave them where they are.
Then up a long stairway into the mist.
On the way, look out for bamboo sprouting their new shoots, beautiful stars on a trajectory. I think each little star can become a bamboo plant.
After another bit of foliage, you get to the trigonometry point.
Well, trigonometry points usually have views but it was a very misty day and we couldn’t see anything beyond 20 feet. So after a brief hangout, a bit of orange eating, water drinking and sitting on the trig base, it was time to continue.
Then it was downhill on a dirt path, a little rocky but nothing a four year old in a dress couldn’t handle.
You can see the wonderful view I had. White mist..! The bright side of it is that there was a fantastic breeze and so so cool. For anyone with acrophobia, it’s the perfect day to go hiking. Couldn’t make out the ravines at all.
Subsequently, it was a bit flat then a slightly rocky uphill again.
Along this path, there were some interesting objects and flowers.
Then the uphill ended at an intersection, whereupon we went towards Parkview.
After a short flat open path, it was downhill again, we met our first big group of hikers coming the other way. We stopped briefly to let them pass.
The slope became flat and open again. We saw a mango tree in bloom, a small centipede and a tree that was devoid of leaves and possibly dead.
About 5 minutes after that we went past some huge rocks and got to some stairs leading down.
We descended down into a paved path and a long stairway which put us on the main road just outside Parkview.
You might like to use this ordinance map to get a feel for the terrain. I’d highly recommend it for kids 3 and above. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete the circuit (maybe 2 if your kids keep stopping to check out the views or dig for quartz).
After our lunch at Maureen’s, we decided to walk off a bit of those noodles. SW suggested we walk up towards the Pak Tai temple where he had noticed a new cafe.
Just when you’ve walked up as far as you can go on the tarmac, the road bends to the left (straight ahead is a path that takes you up to Kennedy Road). Here was a promising sign under the street sign. It was a blackboard with a fairly simple menu touting coffees, tea and a few pastries.
Encouraged by the menu, we proceeded down the street. Lung On Street really is a beautiful street. The banyan trees, conserved and cared for by the temple, provide shade and a sense of nature’s calm.
At the end of the street is a cul de sac, and this is where the cafe is located, looking all cool outfitted in black and glass.
It really reminded me of neighbourhood cafes I’ve been to in London, New York or Sydney. Simple, with some alfresco seating areas and a signboard that isn’t screaming full attention. Nicely designed.
There was a kids cooking class that was going on. About ten children were creating a ruckus just talking to each other. All equipment had been laid out, they were definitely doing some baking.
There wasn’t a whole lot of space internally as half of it was devoted to a professional kitchen. There was a proper large stacked oven for breads, pizzas or grilling a whole suckling pig. A nice looking fridge and some pots and pans. Importantly there was a deep wide sink and a work top. Bite Unite offers chefs a licensed kitchen for hire.
Khun Tanarak, the owner, is there as the site also serves as his office (he’s a photographer specialising in weddings).
I asked him about his choice of location.
“Wong Chuk Hang where most kitchens are, is too far away. Most chefs just need a convenient space to pop in, prepare and get back to whatever else they need to do..”
Since he lives up on Kennedy Road, it is also convenient for him to site his office within walking distance.
He apologised as the coffee machine was under maintenance. Well, that’s a perfect excuse to come back to try the cafe another day.
Every once in a while, I get a doughnut (donut if you’re American 😀) craving. Oh where to go for a simple doughnut that will hit the spot? Most local style doughnuts are a bit chewy and leave a lot of sugar crystals all over the place.
I’ve had ones from the ABC Bakery, the takeaway section at Taste, and the one from Happy Cake Shop on Queens Road East. Personally, I quite enjoy the JCo ones for the airy texture (not chewy or doughy) and it’s “not so sweet” on the palate.
Here are some photos for you to decide where to go for your doughnut fix in Wanchai.
Apart from the texture and consistency of J CO’sdoughnuts, they also have a nice cafe setting for you to enjoy your doughnut, elevating it from a grab and go snack in a bag to a pastry status.
It’s warmly decorated, spacious and well lit. There’s also a ramp entrance, a huge plus for strollers and prams.
So here’s the one I had. Non glazed basic doughnut which was an absolute delight.
Find them at 55 Hennessy Road.
It’s on the side of the street heading down towards Causeway Bay, or check out their Fb page here.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty