Category Archives: sports

Bicycle & Scooter shop – The Bicycle World 

Giant Bicycle shop (aka the Bicycle World, but Giant clearly has marketing monopoly here) has the rudest staff but the best collection of bikes and scooters in Wan Chai. Be prepared that if you walk into that shop speaking only English, you’re generally going to get ignored. If you’re going in to get advice on what to buy, be prepared to be given the advice in a somewhat insulting manner. 


I’ve been to this shop at least ten times to  assist friends acquire various items and accessories but the service has never improved. Some of the guys in there are a tad more genial but it isn’t at all often that you get a smile. There was once I went in to buy a kid’s helmet for a friend and a gweilo (Caucasian) guy was leaving in a huff, swearing and cursing saying “don’t treat me like that just because I’m a foreigner”. I almost stopped him to tell him that they treat everyone like that. Those guys are in need of endorphins, or maybe happier girlfriends. Or maybe a pay raise.

Notwithstanding the stinking attitude, the shop does carry high quality bikes, scooters and accessories at competitive prices. The helmets and scooters are at least 20% cheaper than toys ‘R’ us and you get 10% off if you pay in cash. 

We were there to pick up a micro scooter for a friend’s daughter. Her Christmas present. It was a Sunday and we stood outside at 11.30am. It wasn’t open.


Okay, so another half an hour. Off to the swings round the corner. We came back at 11.50am. Nope. Still shut. 

At 11.55am, one of the guys showed up, unlocked the shutters and lifted them just high enough for him to slip in and lower them down again. At 12.08, another guy showed up and that’s when they lifted the shutters entirely. The first guy brought out two incense sticks as a prayer offering to the small shrine on the outside of the shop, usually to appease dwelling spirits and pray for lots of customers.


The shop has a range of children’s bicycles and adult bicycles. 


But we were there for the scooters.


Here they sell the “Micro” brand of  scooters. Designed in Switzerland but owned by a Hong Kong company apparently. Genius marketing as most people I speak to genuinely think it’s a European brand and product. Maybe it was once. Price ranges from HKD 700+ to 900+ per scooter for kids. Adult scooters go for HKD 2000+.


Don’t forget to buy a helmet for your kid. They have various sizes, measure your kid’s head before heading over. Helmets go for HKD 400+ depending on the size and design. The ones with the cartoon characters are a bit cheaper but they only fit one year olds. 


Find them at 15 Wood Road, Wan Chai. About a 15 minute walk from Wan Chai MTR, already accounting for the time you need to weave in and out of human traffic on narrow pavements, unless you go on Sunday.

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Morrison Hill Public Swimming Pool

Morrison Hill Public Swimming Pool Opening Schedule

It’s been crazy crazy hot in Hong Kong recently, too hot for long outdoor walks and “too hot for scootering” my toddler tells me.

So we’ve resorted to swimming. Not to Shek O beach which is our usual weekend morning hang out (it’s also way too hot even at 8am now and the water has been filthy the past 3 weekends), but the swimming pool in our building and the public pool 10 minutes down the road. 

Our indoor pool isn’t heated, it gets quite chilly in the evenings, the ventilation has got to be on to keep air circulation going but this ends up having a cooling effect whenever any part of your body is out of the water.

So, we tried going to the nearby Morrison Hill Public Swimming Pool. It’s a horrible walk there from Queens Road East, unless you already live in the Oi Kwan Road area, we prefer to take the bus one long stop to Tang Shiu Kin Hospital rather than inhaling 10 mins worth of unrelenting traffic PM 2.5 excreta. 


The pool costs less than HKD 20 to enter. It’s pretty cheap and many people do use it.. We’ve been several times now and it’s been busy whether it’s day or night. 


The swimming complex has a number of pools; the main swimming pool for serious lap- lane swimmers, the indoor exercise and teaching pool, the outdoor training pool and the toddler pool. 


Upon entry into the complex, you are funnelled into the separate male / female changing areas, where there are lockers, benches and showers. Then a walk down a corridor to the rain showers to rinse you a little before the pool area. 

There’s also a family changing room but this is locked and opened only on request.


Lots of interesting little signs with advice…


The female changing room is pretty spacious, but it can fill up on weekends and there are half or fully naked women occupying almost every bit of the changing area. Don’t be intimidated, one just needs to find an empty locker and eek out a space.


After you’re changed into your swim gear and put your valuables away, it’s time to head over to the pool.


I’ve included here a way to keep your things dry while going through the shower… Hold your things out to the side as you walk through the curtain of water.

The first pool you get to is the main indoor swimming pool. Here, it’s filled with the experienced swimmers doing exercise laps. It’s all speedos, goggles and swimming caps in this pool. Kids occupy the far section near the bleachers, then it’s a few shared swimming lanes that you can join if you think you can keep up, and an open area where people are free to carve out their own lane. 


The outdoor training pool was the one our toddler liked best. Warm water with a view and lots of people packing it out at all times. Kids splashing, parents yelling, even adults learning to swim. You pretty much see it all there. 


The poolside deckchairs are by no means comfortable but they do offer a tired mommy a place to sit and watch if the weather is good. The benches in the shade on the far side are a lot less pleasant and I got bitten by mosquitoes there once.


There’s also a toddler pool at the very end, it’s very shallow and intentionally isolated. There was no one there in the evenings so I guess it’s popular mostly in the mornings and late afternoons.


After the swim, head back up to the changing room for a hot shower.

Then exit as you entered 🙂

Note that pool cleaning day is Wednesday, so the pool is shut.

Wan Chai Park

Let’s start by stating the obvious. Wan Chai Park is Wan Chai’s main park. It has the most amount of green space, which isn’t very much in HK but the trees there have beautiful buttress roots which cling to every bit of earth and surface area they can get. Like us, real estate is important to them.

Sights at the park
The park is one of the most complete in terms of amenities. There’s a football pitch, model boat pool which serves as a relaxing fountain area, an elderly exercise zone, a community garden and the all important playground.

  
There are also toilets, drinking water fountains for adults and kids, and ample benches for all to sit for a while.

Wan Chai Park Layout
Disappointingly there is a smoking section. I suspect there may have been some disciplinary issues relating to that. The park board indicates a phone number to call in the event that smokers are where they shouldn’t be. I recall one trip to Wan Chai Park around lunchtime where I was astonished to find myself enveloped in smoke at the entrance. A group of puffers were near the elderly exercise area smoking up a storm. At the time I didn’t think to report them but I suppose I might in the future.

Directions: Park Signboard
The park does get busy, early mornings are usually for the elderly using the exercise equipment and many spread out through the park doing the hand-shaking and hip side-to-side movements. Toddlers and babies get to run around the playground freely with grandparents and nannies. There’s often a gentleman or two napping on the benches. Occasionally the handicapped kids will come to play soccer, or some kids will practice scooters or remote control car racing on the pitch.

  
In the afternoon, the schools nearby let the kids out and many of them swarm the playground. These older boys of less than 10 years can get pretty rough -pushing, shoving, yelling- to get their way on the climbing frames and slides. Mommies or nannies are often sitting on the side chatting, so with little oversight, scenes from Lord of the Flies replays in my mind. Many of those kids (mixed origins, Indian, Nepalese, Myanmese, Chinese) had no qualms stepping on my 2 year old’s hands and feet in their anxiety to be the first to slide. It elicited many tears and screams of despair. Do not bring your kid late afternoon if he/she isn’t prepared to play rough.

Here are some tips for access if you have a pram/stroller.

Wan chai park entrancesPublic toilets and stairwayExit to Wood RoadBroad paths
When the weather is good, it’s a nice park to be in. But be warned that there isn’t much shade for rain and a dearth of nearby cafes within 10 minutes walk that will allow you in with a stroller.

Southorn Playground

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The visitor demographics vary greatly hour to hour and certainly between weekdays and weekends. It’s almost always busy with people using it as a corridor from Hennessey road to Johnston road, bus stop to bus stop. They’ll cut across the courts if no games are on but otherwise will respectfully walk along the perimeter.

Map Southorn playground
On a usual weekday morning, several groups practice martial art sword or fan dancing exercises on the basketball courts and many elderly people come in wheelchairs with their caregivers to get some sunshine. The courts are usually relatively quiet in the mornings, some toddlers may be out practicing walking, tired parents in tow. Anytime before 12 noon is a good time to visit with kids, they’ll have full rein of the goal nets and its before direct sunlight hits the courts.

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Around lunchtime, the crowd occupying the bleachers range from sales guys in suits eating a sandwich to domestic helpers having a break before their next appointment.

Southorn best enjoyed on weekdays
In the late afternoons, after school kids come in with their footballs or basketballs and some very energetic kicking starts. There’s even an older enthusiast who coaches kids between 6-10 years of age how to score a goal. Older guys take over the court from 6pm onwards and the mock battles begin. Games go in late into the night, often almost til 10 or 11pm. Everyone is welcome to sit and watch, as long as you don’t get in the way.

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On weekends, it is crowded from dawn til dusk. Events are also held on the football courts with some regularity, usually for an educational purpose or community entertainment. Otherwise, footballers and basketball players and fans reign the court and bleachers. All non fans sit along the side on the ledges, chatting to each other or on the phone. If you have toddlers or young babies, I don’t recommend you take them there on weekends unless it’s very early in the morning, between 6-9am.

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Present construction on the underground connector between Wan Chai MTR station and the Avenue is due to last until the end of 2016. The noise and dust was very severe at the start of this year but it’s become a little better as progress has been made. The bad news is they’ve acquired about half the basketball courts and completely removed the children’s playground.

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Well, hopefully Hopewell (developer of the Avenue) will use some of its profits and windfall towards the installation of a fantastic playground. This will undoubtedly also benefit their development, and please their target customers, the young parenting community.

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It is pram friendly, access from Johnston road near Tai Wong East Street or from Hennessey Road. There are public toilets here too if you need them but no one will mind if you do a quick diaper change on the stands.

The Lockhart Road Playground

If you should find yourself on the dark oops, North side of Hennessey Road in the early morning or recently ate at the legendary American Peking Restaurant and need to digest/ metabolize off the food, you can do so at this decent park and playground.

Lockhart Playground Location
Lockhart Playground Location

For toddlers, watch their little face light up and hear those foot stomping exclamations of “I wanna go play mama” as you wheel your stroller into the playground. Three separate climbing frames with slides is quite a treat for Hong Kong ( I wish they would spend a bit of money to upgrade and update them). Nonetheless for children something is better than nothing. There’s a short zip bar which is fun for older kids and if you bring a ball they can spend time shooting hoops at the adjoining basketball court. No swings though.

Climbing frames
Climbing frames & slides

It really isn’t busy during the week which is nice and the benches are clean and plentiful around the perimeter of the park. There’s a public toilet here so that’s helpful if you had too much to drink.

The construction site across Lockhart road is quite noisy with piling right now so you’ll just have to tolerate that. Spacious, clean and nice open areas for running around chasing sparrows and letting off steam. I guess it’s because it’s right next to the Boys’ and Girls’ association.