Category Archives: Nature & Environment

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.

Hiking Wilson’s Trail Section 2 (with a toddler)

It’s been cloudy in Hong Kong. Every day it threatens to rain but often it doesn’t. Sometimes we get a little sprinkle but not enough to cool down so that we can put on a rain jacket without perspiring into an internal puddle.

On a day like this, what better way to spend the day then escaping the city’s concrete caverns into the nearby mountains. Easily a degree or two cooler up there but that’s only down to 27 degrees Celsius. Still hot. It’s the wind that makes the difference, those cool gusts coming in from the ocean make it feel like 22 degrees Celsius. So refreshing.

So off we went on a hike. Small person insisted on wearing her pretty Natty dress, which I was quite sure wasn’t the best attire for the purpose but made nice photos. A cab up Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, dropping off at Tai Tam Country Park just outside Parkview Estate.

image
Map of Section 2 hike
The stair master began, gently at first while the forest still provided shelter but more intense on the shrub exposed Mount Butler approach.

 

Tribute to Major Osborn
The trail eased off towards to quarry and made for some amazing views to both right and left.

image 
After we hiked up the side of the quarry, Parkview disappeared from view and we did a climb again to the top of another peak (sighted a battle-scarred lightning rod).

Descent to Quarry Bay / Kornhill
After that it was downward via a stairway that led more or less straight toward Quarry Bay/ Tai Koo Shing. Along here we saw the tall black antennas poking out towards the sky. The Mount Butler radio frequency receiving station covered an impressive site, many steel rods in vertical alignment supported by cables in all directions. Approximately (1) on map below


The descent soon brought us to the Quarry bay tree walk where we suddenly came upon a bamboo thicket lined with porcelain statues and a shrine to the Goddess of Mercy. Probably a place of prayer for those who perished in the area.

Kuan Yin in the jungle
Shortly thereafter, we saw old military installations such as food stores and cooking stoves. (2) on map below

Military Food Stores in JungleWartime stoves
I was surprised that the stoves were in such good condition, clearly built to withstand any kind of fire.
The wartime stovesFlowers in the stoves
Beautiful flowers had taken the place where furnaces would have burned hot. These flowers radiated such energy in their colour, contrasting from the uniform lush green surroundings.

The rest of the descent was very green and peaceful. Sounds of running water from brooks and waterfalls… and gradually more signs of human activity (BBQ sites, picnic areas).

Nature on Wilson trail section 2
Small person did quite well on the long uphill stair climbs, needing a hand hold all the way. I didn’t mind as some parts of the trail were unpaved or made of slippery stone, while other parts near the quarry were ravines and cliffs not to be trifled with. A slip in the wrong direction would have been certain disaster. Fortunately we managed to get her to cooperate and sit in the back carrier when she needed a rest. A fifteen minute nap, some snacks and she was awake again singing songs to her finger puppet.


Great scenes of nature, lots to see and talk about. But not for a toddler who wants to either take off without you or one that’s too heavy for you to carry for more than two hours. Unless you or your partner recently joined a weightlifting gym like my husband did.