Category Archives: General thoughts

It’s life sized shining angels this year

Christmas decorations at Lee Tung Avenue

the lights come on once it’s dark, usually by 6pm.

When are the bubble snow shows?

And you can get your kid or inner kid (they have adult height wing prints) to pose as one too… just mind you don’t photobomb someone else’s picture.

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Incentive to recycle in Wan Chai?

Just recently, Lee Tung Avenue added a recycling machine in the corridor towards Exit D of Wan Chai’s MTR station. I think it’s a fabulous idea that needs to be worked on more aggressively.

You pop a bottle into the round opening and it’s supposed to give you points from the company collecting these bottles (Note that not all recyclable bottles are collected, you scan the barcode and the machine tells you if they accept it🤔). I’m not sure what the accumulated points can be used for or whether it’s just like TripAdvisor, where you just get a virtual pat on the back for doing the community a service.

What would be better is to work with octopus, where a certain token sum is put back into your card. Even 5 or 10 cents would be a worthwhile incentive for people to detour out of their way in order to put the bottles in. The government can then reduce the messy sights on the street where the recycling bins are packed to the brim and often spilling over on weekends.

Another improvement on the machine is that the bottles aren’t crushed immediately, but simply dropped into a receptacle within. This was really cheap on the part of the recycling company, they should be getting the machines which compact the plastic bottles this saving bin liners. Go for maximum savings right? Bottles are bulky and take up so much space.

This article from today’s SCMP:

74 per cent of drinks cartons in landfill from Vitasoy – firm ‘must recycle’

It highlights a particular company (Vitasoy) that is obviously a very much loved brand in Hong Kong, where it’s tetra packs constitute 75% of all drink packets in Hong Kong’s trash. Why does Vitasoy not participate in collection by having these machines collect drink packs? Perhaps for every 20 packets consumed, one could collect enough points or cash to redeem a pack. How about partnering with 7-11 stores? 7-11s and Circle K are the major distributors of these drinks around the city. They could act as a collection point like they do for the Kowloon dairy milk bottles (washed Kowloon milk glass bottles redeem for 50 cents at 7-11).

Intrinsically, most people do want to do the right thing, they just don’t want to go out of their way, wasting precious time if it isn’t as rewarding as what they already need to do. Hong Kong has a work ethic culture that is one of the toughest in the world. There’s a minimum wage but it doesn’t match the cost of living. Everyone of all socio-economic level is under pressure to make every second count in order to afford living here.

If recycling is incentivized and promoted in Hong Kong (due to its high urban concentration), it could easily become a way of life and help balance out this fast paced throwaway culture.

just saw a new machine at Wanchai MTR! Now they need to put another machine to accept all the plastic bottles that these machines reject so that you don’t need to scout another 20 minutes for a recycling bin…..

Excuse me, how much was that croissant?

Wanchai has recently been experiencing a bit of a battle of the bakeries (we’ll chat soon about the battle of the burger joints).

Not more than 5 years ago, there were only local bakeries selling their sweet breads. Then Passion made its debut and was a great hit with everyone looking for something more upmarket, like an authentic croissant (Not just rough folded in the shape of a croissant aka Swiss bakery… that was just disappointment in a paper bag) or a sourdough loaf. Kayser soon muscled in and now have two bakeries within 300 meters along Queens Road East.

Now, we have a several cafes and bakeries that serve baked goods and pastries… La Station, Le Pain Quotidien, Bakehouse and most recently Big Grains on Tai Wo street (turn left at Hang Seng bank on Johnston Road).

The price of the croissant has steadily risen at each new bakery. Originally $14 at Kayser, it’s now $16 at the new Passion and LPQ. Then $18 at Bakehouse and $23 for the classic at Big Grains.

All the bakeries appear very busy and are doing brisk business with clientele either dining in or taking away. Big Grains is the only bakery with no seating section so it’s like a traditional chinese bakery with a modernised display and selection.

At $27, you’re halfway to a meal deal at a local Hong Kong Cafe. Will one of these croissants be as satisfying?

Then there’s this strange bun called “chocolate soil” charming name.

A selection of creamy sweet treats in the refrigerated section.

A new take on the Swiss roll at traditional bakeries. More cream less sponge it looks like. Check out the price for a whole roll… that’s maybe 4-5x of what the traditional bakeries like ABC, Happy Cake, A1 bakeries charge. Is it really that good? Giving Japanese bakery Yoku Moku some competition..?

Who can forget cookies? These are ovo lacto vegetarian. So if you know of anyone who is on a restricted no-egg no-dairy diet, this would be the first bakery in Wanchai to cater to them 👍. Watch out for the nuts though, and sticker shock when paying the bill.

An almost seaside walk

It is now possible to walk to Admiralty again if you’re by the Wan Chai convention center. The walk is still not scenic, and neither romantic nor quick, but it does open up a vital channel which is shorter than doing the crazy walk out near Gloucester Road.

On the bright side, it is entirely flat, relatively smooth (great for strollers) and shielded from the construction site.

if you want to know how much of the Harbour has been filled here, take a look at the picture below.

There’s space for a whole new dual carriageway and the tunnel beneath.

Too bad the Wan Chai beach idea never made it past the drawing board.

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.

Typhoon 10 Mangkhut huffed and puffed and…

The biggest storm so far of 2018 and the last two decades was fascinating to witness.

This was a great test of urban infrastructure, a lesson for architects and engineers, a real way for the community to bond through helping each other or simply keeping in touch.

Yesterday evening, I spent it at Shek O beach. The swells were increasing in size, reaching almost 2 meters in the short time we were there at low tide.

It had been an idyllic day, hot but sunny and somehow, knowing that a massive storm was soon to strike, most people were out making the most of it. Wanchai on a Saturday afternoon had an almost carnival like atmosphere.

Here are a few sights of the aftermath in Wan Chai last night.

Some dangers still lurking above and beneath your feet. Anyone heading out should wear only sturdy shoes and be highly alert for possible loose items that could cause injury.

Broken glass from windows and chunks of granite

Broken, broken, broken.

Fallen signboards and ripped lanterns
Many trees affected along Gloucester Road

Tree down on Lockhart, Firemen surveying scene

Overall things weren’t too bad in Wan Chai. The trees were the most affected, and a few buildings will need to sort their windows out. Shui On Center needs to work on their lifts and air con.

From The SCMP

All closed up at the MTR station

Tree leaning against a bench at Lee Tung Avenue.

And I’ve now figured out why the bins in Wan Chai are still in the same place. Someone thought of tethering them to the nearest railing. Such a simple and clearly effective idea. 👍😀Good thinking.