Category Archives: Quirky things to see

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.

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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.

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

First flea market at the newly renovated Blue House 藍屋 in Wan Chai

If you live in Wan Chai and looking for a flea market today, you’ll find it at the Blue House (藍屋). It’s a lively scene. A small courtyard with music and packed with lots of traders each occupying a mat no larger than a meter square. I’m not sure who is buying… perhaps it may have been busier earlier in the day. It shuts at 6pm and with only an hour to go, I can still see lots of items on display. 

Scenes from the Flea market

My point is this. It’s poorly publicised. I wouldn’t have known about it except that I happened to walk right by it on Queens road east. Not a brochure, poster or banner anywhere in the neighbourhood until today. Why?

I’m keen to find out if the traders thought it was a worthwhile economic activity… perhaps just to get their branding and name featured on the launch of the Blue House

—————-//—————–

I headed back there at 6pm to catch everyone tidying up. I wasn’t terribly impressed with what was for sale, it looked like bric-a-brac and some handicraft, a couple of purse stalls that looked like they were bought from Sham Shui Po (no offence meant, it’s just that they didn’t look special). 

A lady was singing “moon represents my heart” by Teresa Teng accompanied by a guitarist. It was a bit karaoke and folksy. 


There was a sign indicating where the snack booths were so I went in for a look. It was disappointing. The two booths had packed up and the room was small and cramped. Can’t have been much fun being stuffed into a corner.

On the bright side, there was a lady there who was selling twisty balloons. She was giving a few away free to the kids. One girl got an Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen) and I was handed a Spider-Man for the baby. Well, why not. I asked her how business was today and if the event was well attended… “ma ma teh ler” (so-so in Cantonese) was her reply. 

An enterprise promoting cargo bikes and street hawking

At the intersection of Stone Nullah Lane and Queens Road East, there was an interview taking place. It looked like a PR stunt for a company making “cargo bikes”, essentially stalls hitched onto a bicycle (think ice cream man, 1950’s style). A model of one was parked just outside Stone Nullah Tavern and another by the fruit farm chicken shop. I couldn’t quite figure whether the company plans to sell or rent them to small enterprises for use at flea markets and art fairs. Or perhaps it might be legal in Hong Kong to hawk wares on sidewalks and pavements again?


I’m really hoping that the St. James settlement (who managed the renovation of the Blue House and decides its fate) is going to hold nice events and not turn it into a dumpy, junky kind of event venue. I’m certainly less impressed with what they’ve done with the renovation (quality wise) vis-a-vis the Comix Home Base in Mallory Street where there is a theme, distinct sense of purpose, a nice library where kids hang out to read and updated Cha Chan Teng (茶餐厅)where you can have a decent milk tea in air conditioned comfort.