Category Archives: Quirky things to see

Philippino Helpers packing boxes on Sam Pan Street

5 Nov 2017: I usually see the helpers packing their large cardboard boxes at Worldwide House in Central. It’s a weekly affair that takes place every Saturday and Sunday, the outer lobby walkway of the building is thronged by helpers shouting to each other for masking tape or just assistance to shut their boxes. There are the guys hanging about waiting for the packing to finish so that they can put the boxes into crates for loading onto trucks. Add to that mix, the chaos of the general public trying to make their way to the footbridge and the lifts to the MTR station and it’s a recipe for bumping, jostling and avoidance steering… if you’re good at bumper cars, you might be good at this. 


Today I witnessed a more relaxed version of this in Wan Chai along Sam Pan Street. It’s a little street that branches off Spring Garden Lane into a what is now a back alley that leads to the market. It often smells because the refuse site for Lee Tung Avenue is situated along this street and wafts of the rubbish often float into the playground adjacent. 


I thought I’d take a look to see what was being packed. 


Boxes and bags were all placed along the side of the street and the ladies were busy filling them up to the brim, sealing over them with masking tape.


The truck was parked on the side of the road waiting to be filled. I’m quite sure it was going to be filled as the queue of packers went down and round the street.


I guess the idea is that these parcels with gifts and household stuff will make it home by Christmas or the New Year.

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Halloween celebrations in Lee Tung Avenue 

By the light of the full moon.. a vampire comes out to play…

Lee Tung Avenue has had great success in creating a public space where small,  interesting art and music projects can draw the attention of a steady stream of people. Many are locals, young couples who visit in the evening for a dessert. Some are older people with their helpers, they occupy the benches to soak up the late morning sun. Then there are families, who use this pedestrianised street as a conduit to the schools. They often return after school, in the evenings to run around*.

Halloween has become an increasingly significant occasion for commercial festivity in Hong Kong. It’s nice because it involves the children and all that fancy get up is fun, but it doesn’t teach them much about American culture or what it means. Local and international schools both celebrate it and kids come home with drawings of pumpkins and bats and broomsticks. It’s almost as big a celebration as Christmas.


I thought it was fabulous that Lee Tung Avenue took a different approach to their display. The organisers chose an art installation with significance to both the mid-autumn festival and Halloween. Titled “Museum of the Moon“, a large blown up rendition of 5 km earth’s only moon surface is suspended  from the arch and illuminated from within at night. 

New victims?
Yeah, he tasted real good…

For the Halloween weekend, Ophelia was advertising a blood sucking gory time on Saturday night and Tuesday night. That vampire was co-opted into posing with visitors along the pedestrian alleyway by the light of the moon. 

It was a funny and entertaining sight. The crowds were out enjoying the cool weather and the scene… as was I!


Halloween night walk in Wan Chai.

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*Wan Chai really needs a good quality children’s playground, will LCSD please consider this carefully and install a great one at Southorn playground when you’re finished ripping it up for the underground Mall? All the future generated income could be reflected in quality of life an awesome playground would bring to families in the area. And I’m not referring to those red yellow plastic things you presently install all over. Please take a look at the Megan Daley park in Chicago or even this wonderful bamboo installation (since Hong Kong is so fond of using bamboo for scaffolding) at the restaurant Triplets in Chiang Mai

The fantastic playground at the Megan Daley Park in Chicago
Bamboo constructed playground at Triplets in Chiang Mai

The last day of July 2017: Monday Night in Wan Chai

On a very hot and quite polluted Monday evening, the sidewalks of Queens Road East were particularly busy near the Indigo Hotel and Wu Chung House. People were hanging around a place they had no business to be hanging around. Those pavements are narrow and at busy road intersections.

I guess the safety aspect was marginally addressed by the peak hour slow moving traffic. The pedestrian traffic was also similarly slowed by the concentration of humans occupying a sidewalk that is lined with recycling bins on one side and trees on another.

Look at this:


I was literally having to wade through a bunch of zombies to get to the bus stop. 

If you crossed the road, the situation wasn’t much better. 


All these zombies milling around anxiously looking at their phones. No one acknowledged each other, though they all knew why they were there. Perhaps they were fighting to the death online and that makes them enemies in real life too.

I sneaked a look at one of the player’s screens. POKEMON.

Getting the time all wrong on Gloucester Road 

I have a fondness for public time keepers. You know, the buildings which have a massive clock at the top of buildings that can be seen for a few kilometres. It’s usually a big digital display reminiscent of old clock towers in British town squares (think Big Ben). It’s an easy reference for everyone in the city and I love it especially because I usually don’t wear a watch and use the “look up” method to figure out what the next appointment should be. (Far East Plaza in Singapore, Maxis building in Kuala Lumpur). 

In Hong Kong, the most visible digital time display is on at ICC but unfortunately only at night, and only transiently as it rotates to other pictorial and self advertising displays. During the day, the building stands bold but cold, trying to stare down IFC across the harbour. 


In Wan Chai, the big clock is an old school type analogue display. It’s positioned near street level, just above the tree line at AXA Center. This clock is visible to pedestrians walking along the public walkways of Sung Hung Kai buildings and it’s neighbours, the pedestrian bridges that cross busy Gloucester Road connecting Star ferry passengers to the heart of Wan Chai.

Well, when the clock is working that is. I was walking by at 2.45pm and the clock was stuck at the magic Cinderella hour of 12. A blown fuse? A power cut? Faulty mechanism? I was initially puzzled when I saw it was noon as I was quite certain I was late for my 2.30pm appointment. 

I hope they fix it soon so that it can serve its purpose.

Have you seen any other public time displays in Hong Kong? Please share their locations 🙂

Has anyone noticed the new plant boxes in Wan Chai? 

These plant boxes appeared sometime this morning (Friday, June 30). I know because I left home at 8.15am and they weren’t there yet. But on my way back before noon, they appeared. 

How fancy! Is a VIP coming this way I wonder? 


I wonder if they’ll be removed at the end of July or are they here to stay?



They are of quite solid quality and the distressed wood look is quite nice. Unfortunately, they look a bit shallow and the soil they used doesn’t look particularly nutritious.


Thanks LCSD.

I’ll have to see if these planters have been placed elsewhere. Hopefully they’re here to stay.


None seen along the rest of Queens Road East… or other parts of Wan Chai.

A meeting with a McLaren 

One of my neighbours told me that he was invited to test drive a Rolls Royce in Hong Kong via LinkedIn last week. 

He was very surprised to have made it onto the target list and quite intrigued about how the algorithm/ marketing person decides what job titles would be the right level for Rolls Royce ownership. (R, if you do go, can we join you for the ride?)

I walk past the McLaren and Rolls Royce dealerships in Wu Chung House, Wanchai, almost everyday. I’ve seen parties thrown in the Rolls Royce showroom but never seen anyone browsing. The “Wraiths” do disappear from time to time, presumably for photo shoots, display elsewhere or perhaps test drives. It’s always a sight when the staff open those glass doors and drive the Rolls straight out onto the pavement, off the curb bouncing off onto the street.

Interview in the McLaren Showroom

The McLaren showroom is a different matter. Linked to the Rolls showroom by an internal door (same owner perhaps), it’s starkly contrasted by having a black interior floor and ceiling. The Rolls Royce showroom is lit up in a “heavenly white” (sort of a creamy butter-white actually). 


The McLaren showroom hasn’t hosted any parties but it does occasionally host interviews and provides a backdrop. A sports supercar or two do occasionally disappear for a day or two but nowhere near as often as the Rolls Royce. 


The McLaren cars are quite a marvel to look at, although I wish that the owner and staff would not be such anti social and marketing idiots. I mean, why put a toy McLaren car in the window that says “Not For Sale”? 


If it’s not for interacting, why display it at all? Tesla on the other hand has a toy car in the window and it is for sale. You can get the same colour car for your kid. Inspiration and aspiration both rolled into one.


Why have a showroom on the ground floor by a bus stop if you’re not inviting people in?

Here’s a list of speeds versus price of McLaren versus the new everyday supercar, Tesla. Now that’s a value proposition.

Tesla versus sports supercars speed versus price by Bloomberg

 Unfortunately McLaren is spelt incorrectly in the table above but you get the idea.

Hong Kong’s first typhoon 8 signal of 2017

The first typhoon of the year that sweeps into town usually generates a lot of excitement. You’ll hear everyone talking about it and stocking up on groceries as though a civil war is about to erupt. Intermittent rain, gusty winds make for a fun time to be outdoors as long as you’re properly attired. This weather calls for sturdy waterproof Wellington boots and wind-proof umbrellas. 


All the shops tape their glass panels to prevent shattering and staff are dismissed once the signal 8 is “hoisted” by the Hong Kong Observatory. The pavements empty out but the streets are full of stuck traffic. Heavy buses loaded with people, underground station platforms are shoulder to shoulder, everyone trying to get on a train home. The trains run less frequently during a typhoon and that contributes to the messy gridlock. 

Here are a few photos of diligent shops taping up their windows. It’s a sight that we never see in South East Asia.


Hay! Restaurant has a lot of glass panels to tape up.


I sense that Tesla only did it because everyone else was… their Xs are too small for the window panel and wouldn’t hold the glass together if something struck it.


MUJI doesn’t take any chances…taped glass top to bottom with another screen behind it.. they’re well prepared for a serious typhoon. This company really has their SOPs down. 


Okashi gallery also did a nice taping job.


Sunlight tower taped their doors but it also looks somewhat decorative.

Here’s a video of the outdoor Wan Chai market at 5pm. All stalls are shut but there is barely any rain or wind. Hmm. The typhoon will probably be gone by tonight, which is too bad as it would be nice to sleep in to the sounds of rain.