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.
When I first heard of Southorn Playground, my initial thoughts were of an actual playground with green flora interspersed with fountains and footpaths. In reality, it’s a football court and two basketball courts adjacent to each other with bleachers on one side of it. It is lacking in true flora (there are a few trees and planter boxes), there isn’t much space for that. So it’s not somewhere you would go for “fresh air”.
However, it is a big community space and members of the public are welcome to walk through it (to avoid the rubbish collection area on Luard) to get to Johnston Road, or sit on the bleachers for lunch. You could try and find a space along the perimeter of the courts but you’ll find yourself competing with the elderly and infirm hanging out with their caregivers.
When there isn’t a game of footie or basketball going on, the space is used for community events.
The event taking over Southorn Playground tonight is the Chaoren Association of Hong Kong. Looks like a lot of Hong Kong’s Chiu Chow people will be gathering in one place. At least 3000 of them anyway, according to the seating chart.
Well, it’s nice and cool weather, great to be outdoors. I’m impressed at how they are going to cater for that many people… unless it’s packed food handed out at the entrance.
Some of Wan Chai’splaygrounds are tucked away in little hidden areas, almost like private courtyards for in-the-know residents. It’s nice that these spaces are reserved and gazetted as public parks, though I wish the local district council would consider upgrading them (not just maintaining them) as a matter of routine.
One example is this playground at Wan Chai Gap Road. Not many would know of its existence unless you’re a regular commuter along the Wan Chai Gap Road, or have a habit of ducking down narrow alleys for a look around.
There are two access points to the playground, one down a narrow alley off Stone Nullah Lane (past popular drinking spot Stone Nullah Tavern), the other is via the steep Wan Chai Gap Road off Queens Road East. That’s the steep little road just by the old post office. Then down some stairs to the left.
It’s surrounded either by high walls or buildings on all sides, and there are steps for both entrances, so this isn’t one that I recommend going with your monster stroller.
It does open up to a fairly wide concrete area, with very small facilities for young kids. By that I mean that the age catered for is 2-5 years old. There are three little ride-ons which can provide a ten minute respite, and a tic tac toe grid if you fancy a quick game. I thought it was a real pity the very large under-utilised space had no swingsor slide.
Instead it serves more as an air well and walk through connector for residents. Not much of a playground is it?
I suppose kids could take their toys there to play… but if that was the idea then a ramp should be made in place of steps.
Hong Kong needs to step up a notch in playground design. As one of the top financial centres in the world, the public playgrounds are lagging behind Tokyo, New York, London, Singapore.
Find the playground here if you need to get off the busy streets and catch a breather.
It’s been at least half a year since I last visited Baumhaus. Since then, things appear to have gotten much busier with many more mothers and children visiting the playroom.
The lift attendants are now more attentive and open the door to the secure lift lobby when they see you coming. The lift buttons still don’t light up when pressed but light up only when it gets to the floor. In this case, Baumhaus is on the first floor.
Some thoughtful renovation has been performed. The front counter and bench has been shifted to give more space to the playroom, it also created a useful reading nook beside the cafe which was otherwise a wasted corridor space that visually partitioned the cafe from the playroom.
There were additional toys, a play kitchen, an aeroplane baby swing. I liked that when the playroom got really busy, they expanded the roam area by opening the collapsible doors to the classroom to create a contiguous space.
The soundproofing was a critical upgrade. The walls beneath the windows are now covered with an inch thick layer of padding. It makes a huge difference to the acoustics of the playroom. Think 30 screaming children dampened to half. That’s a significant tolerable reduction.
The cafe is now properly equipped, so coffees, teas, hot/cold chocolate and bottled juices are now available. Served alongside if you want are a variety of biscuits, muffins and toasted bagels with cream cheese (recommended, HKD 23).
The playroom costs HKD 80 per entry, kids are welcome to play for several hours but 2 hours is usually enough for them to do all the sliding they want, and get through most of the toys.
If there’s one thing worse than being in an outdoor playground when it’s hot, it’s being there when it’s full of people so there’s nowhere to sit, AND full of mosquitoes that leave horrible welts on your calves for weeks (horrible Hong Kong Park).
It was in the height of summer last year that I discovered Spring. How did I hear about it? A minibus went by with an ad for it and I googled the address and went to check it out.
What a fantastic find. A large open indoor play space with natural light in Wan Chai only exists here. Unfortunately Baumhaus, despite a better location (recently opened on Queens Road East) cannot compare. Combine that with great interior design and warm friendly staff who know when to leave you alone.
Small person has spent an immeasurable amount of time there ever since. She took to it right away, the toddler exercise area changes every week, providing new challenges. The indoor swings were a huge hit with her, I’m always moving furniture out of the way for maximum amplitude.
The padded stairs, tree house and slide are superb areas for toddlers to work out their little leg muscles. And it’s all cleverly designed so that a small adult can also fit in it if necessary. The glass windows provide a direct visual of the kids and serves to reduce the racket their making.. Very well thought out.
I love that I can sit for a while and perhaps speed read a magazine, have a drink and luxuriate for a few minutes in a nice loo.
Aside from cooking and mandarin classes, small person spends her time with kitchen play sets, train tracks, Lego and other dexterity building toys in the toy zone. Depending on where you sit, as it is an open concept space, it’s possible to keep an eye or ear on your toddler wherever they are.
The play space you’ll get to use for free if you sign up for at least one of their myriad of classes (cooking, language, art, sports, dance….). Though I’m sure that if you’re in the neighbourhood and just need to set your child down for a while, the staff will let you in.
Spring is on the 3rd floor of a commercial building. There’s lots of parking for cars nearby. You can get the tram to Tonnochy if it’s too far from the MTR (but remember,
no prams on the trams) If you’re coming on foot like me, there are two entrances to the building, via Gloucester Road ( big orange highway) or Jaffe Road. Jaffe road is also known as Food Street in Wan Chai, many delicious restaurants along here, most are mommy-pram friendly if you get there by 11am, before the lunch crowd starts. Otherwise, wait til 2pm and you’ll get your seat and less stressed wait staff.
This playground is very very popular on weekends. There are two playgrounds separated by a road. One for the young ones 2-5 years of age ( climbing frame and swings) and another for the 5-12 year olds which has a climbing frame, swings and a scooter/ skateboard zone.
Families come from all over to let the kids go crazy on the slides, scooter around, buy bubble guns that shoot out a stream of bubbles… Every kid wants one of those.
Then there’s the fairground atmosphere of adults and children eating as they play, instead of cotton candy floss and lollipops, think local snacks, fish balls, steamed Siew Mai and herbal boiled eggs (my favourite… try it for $5 per egg). The little concession stand does milk teas and coffees, hot or cold, ovaltine and Horlicks. The fridge stocks most soft drinks that you can think of and there’s an array of candy, chips and chocolate to choose from. Let’s not forget the ice cream. There’s the usual Walls type ice cream available, cones and sticks. They only accept cash so make sure you bring change.
Amenities wise, there’s a public restroom, water coolers to refill your bottle and lots and clean benches to sit and eat. Or just sit.
On a clear low pollution day, you can look out over the South side from the picnic area and enjoy the cool breeze rushing over the mountains. The falcons love it, look out for them soaring overhead.
In the high humidity of summer, there are lots of mosquitoes so do not forget your bug spray.
Access this playground via:
No. 15 bus, catch it from Central or Wan Chai towards the Peak (possible with pram but depends on how crowded bus is, usually full of tourists with very big fancy cameras)
Walk up Wan Chai Gap ( starts beside Bamboo Grove. Tough with pram, do not try going uphill unless super fit. Do not try going downhill unless someone else carries the baby.)
Catch a taxi/ uber it up there
There are some nice pram friendly walks you can do from here (Black’s Link and Aberdeen Reservoir Walk), I’ll be detailing them in another post.
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty