Category Archives: Sitting Area

World Music Day: Barcella playing at 1563, Hopewell Center (Who is Barcella?)

A new signboard went up outside Hopewell Center advertising the events for World Music Day.

If you’re free on Saturday the 17th of June, you might want to catch Barcella performing Puzzle -a French singer- live on stage at 3.30pm for free. He’s subsequently performing at 8pm at 1563 for a cover charge of HKD 280. 

You can have a look at some of his colourful and dramatic, satirical videos online but this video Ma Douce featuring a sexy stripper is particularly entertaining.


If you don’t understand French (I don’t), the lyrics would be completely lost on you. It’s part of Le French May so a French artist is not at all surprising. Here are the lyrics to the song Puzzle translated into English (courtesy of google translate). Maybe the lyrics might still be lost on you 🙂

PUZZLE by BARCELLA

Cursed Poet Seeks a Supreme Ruler

Melancholy seeks fragile heart

Origami looking for abyss

But how to make the pair?

Tapatoudi seeks end of film

Toutifrouti looks for vitamin

Small Mowgli seeks solid lianas

To get laid in the air

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

Knotted throat looking heart blooms

Kiss stolen looking nursery

Timidity cherhce grain d’folie

To sing the misery

Facalam seeks confetti

Pockieman looking for Dame Woggy

Girl injured looking for disease

To probe the mystery

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Alexandrine

Belly empty cherhce gingerbread

Mantoline looking for melodist

Melanine looks beautiful licorice

To build rainbow

Paste-to-modeler in Paste-à-fix

Catapult seeks cataclysm

Grain of beauty seeks between your thighs

To empty hot air balloon

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

For harlequin

On the other side there is probably someone

I do not know who, what I do not know what

This I do not know

Step by step, step by step

I weave the ties

Our lives are Chinese puzzles

Too small

Point

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Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Some of Wan Chai’s playgrounds 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.

Playground entrance

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.

Play area for children 2-5years old

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 swings or slide.

Instead it serves more as an air well  and walk through connector for residents. Not much of a playground is it? 

Wanchai Gap Playground “Connector”

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.

Location of Wan Chai Gap Road Playground

Chinese New Year Festivities at Hopewell Center

The stage at Hopewell Center’s open piazza has been decorated with the same Chinese New Year theme. It’s a nice stage and today I noticed the signboard display of all the activities for the next few weeks. 


What drew my attention was… the queue. Why do HK people so love queuing? 


As far as I could tell, nothing was happening on stage yet. What were they waiting for so patiently?


According to the notice board, it’s the chinese red banner writing. I suppose people come here because it’s free. There are other roadside stalls that have popped up, for example the one along Johnston road near comix home base, but those calligraphers need to earn a living so there’s a fee for sure.

Here are the schedules:


Red banner writing. If you missed today’s session they have a final one next Thursday.


Lion dance. This is always fun for all the family. Make a date for the 10th of Feb.


Ok, not sure what it’s like getting your fortune told by dice… could be that you’re gambling with your future 😉 anyway that event already happened, sorry.

The orchestra is playing though on the 3rd of Feb.


Finally the lucky bird fortune telling. I suppose it could be a rooster picking out your big decisions. Don’t be a chicken about it.

And music on the 9th and 14th of Feb.

Sounds like fun if you’re in Wanchai and willing to brace the queues.

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.

Is Wanchai’s City Tree dead? (With update below)

The Wanchai City Tree project has been a disappointment to me so far. After I saw the launch by its Founder and team (flanked by lots of dudes in suits) with lots of snazzy photo taking and media buzz, the City Tree has been mostly ignored since. More ominously a black netting has been wrapped around the tree… it’s a bit unclear if this was to prevent the recent typhoon(s) from ripping out all the plants or whether the plants aren’t quite acclimating well to the environs.

I see the following issues:

1) not very aesthetically pleasing

2) rather exposed seating area

3) no way to know whether it’s working (the screen has been blank for a while now)

Individual plantlets on the City Tree

What the City Tree needs is a big display above the awning indicating what the second to second PSI is, flicking to what the PSI variations are during the day and night. That way, all passersby will be able to see what the traffic contributes during rush hour, how particles decrease after a good thunderstorm or on a public holiday. 


Come on Herr Denes Honus and teamyou can do better than that. If you’re struggling with the PSI indicator, please collaborate with Dyson. My Dyson Fan Air Quality Indicator works very well.

Will Wan Chai be filled with City Trees? Replacing any trees that fall during typhoon season with City Trees would be a welcome start though the effect on the landscape isn’t quite the same. See the article below on possible intents…

Vertical gardens that ‘eat’ air pollution and how Hong Kong could use them 

Quick update: the black netting has now been removed. The coverage of plants seem to be a little more extensive but the computer display was definitely not working right.

City Tree Netting is off today

BUT

But computer is faulty

Baumhaus Playroom in Queen’s Road East

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

Indoor playground for Toddlers

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.

Toddler exercise zone
Constantly changing toddler exercise zone


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.

Spring 3
natural light, thoughtful furniture design

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.

Spring2
Park your kid, your pram and yourself

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.

Spring 4
Barefoot babies, bring your socks mummies

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.