Category Archives: Quirky things to see

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…..

Up they went and down they came…

Just two days ago, the work men and ladies were busy prepping for the upcoming Autumn aka mooncake – lantern festival. Huge lanterns the size of a person appeared, alongside 8 platform lifts and 2 massive chair lifts to allow the lanterns to be hung from the steel wires that suspend across Lee Tung Avenue.

Here are some visuals of the rather massive exercise…

Then, two days later… news of two powerful storms heading towards Hong Kong.

With a super typhoon set to strike possibly on Sunday, no chances are being taken. Take’em down!

What fun and I wonder if it matters how the lanterns are arranged when suspended because it’s all a mess now. The guys just marched over and threw them up in a heap. Will they just leave them there to the elements or secure something in the basement?

Abuse of subsidized space

This recent article “Management of the city’s public markets must be improved” -about the abuse of subsidized space- made me think about a quiet corner in Wan Chai market.

It’s quiet because there’s not much economic activity going on there. The stalls nearby must have a love-hate relationship with the two stalls that are perpetually covered up, full of cartons and crates.

On one hand, it’s not competition, so that’s a plus. Maybe they get to store boxes beside those stalls, also a plus. But then again the crowd doesn’t get drawn in. That’s a negative. So those stalls need to build up their business with regulars and the stumble-uponers, that is, the people who just happen to pass by en route elsewhere.

I’ve seen the representatives of the government landlord come round, handing out their papers near the end of the year, the stall owners heaving a sigh at the increase in rent. They are probably thinking of how to handle the questions from clients about the increase in prices for all the produce while everyone adjusts to the inflation while accepting that salary increases are almost negligible.

Renting a stall in the indoor market costs around ten thousand Hong Kong dollars for about 30-40 square feet of space. That’s not cheap for a very basic layout in a rather cramped environment. On the upside, the stalls get fantastic foot traffic from a very mixed crowd. The army of domestic helpers wearing their caps and dragging their trolleys, all jostling for a stall position. The tai tai grandmas who choose to peruse the chaos and when the opportunity arises, shove themselves to the front while loudly complaining how crowded it is to the fishmonger.

The army of MPVs with drivers waiting for their owners gives you a big clue as to the patrons of the various stalls. Wouldn’t a stall owner from outdoors prefer an indoor space? The clients sure do if it’s hot or raining… they already cause major traffic congestion by double parking.

Another example of an abuse of subsidized space must be the Blue House. The renovation of the usable space and it’s tenants has been rather disappointing.

Firstly, the commercial areas.

1) There is no one using the chinese clinic space. Is this space just for show? They should offer a group of bone-setting chinese physicians to use the space. Wouldn’t it be so cool to have a rotating number of chinese docs doing acupressure for clients or even the community? Great PR.

2) The House of Stories is nice and the curator and the young lady docent do their best to promote the history through talks and activities but it’s plain disappointing that you can’t also tour the living quarters of the Blue House. I mean…what did they do in that multimillion dollar renovation?! It would’ve been really fantastic if Hong Kong could pull off a reality museum where you could see what it was like before in photos and what it is now (maybe similar!). That would’ve won some awards and should’ve been a pre-condition to the tenants.

3) The chinese dessert shop is not nicely designed. It’s a pity that they couldn’t learn a design trick or two from Samsen (which manages to replicate the atmosphere of a Thai diner).

4) The organic goods shop is a real mish-mash of random dried and fresh produce. I’m not really sure who they supply. There is a market around the corner y’know.

5) The St. James donation shop is always a fun browse, it’s a whole flea market by itself. But why is the ventilation so poor? There’s a great book collection in there and they should do a proper job making it into a children’s resource or relaxation library… instead it smells like most of the books are being consumed by damp fungi.

Well past 11am on a weekday and it’s closed.

6) The other Hong Kong House of stories room (which is rarely open) should have been amalgamated with the other room to make it a more spacious usable area. The local crafts workshops should run more regularly. It’s a real shame that local artists who regularly paint or photograph in the area can’t exhibit their works more often.

7) The vegetarian restaurant which barely has 4 tables is shoved into a lonesome back area that reminds you of where the bin lockers should be in any building. It’s an afterthought and the menu has no appeal at all. For a similar price, you can have a set lunch comfortably at Green Common or at the OVO restaurant, all within 3-5 minutes walk.

Not big, not small. And not very nice.
Struggling grass… not enough light, soon to be trampled..

8) The small field or lawn should be landscaped more pleasantly. Right now it’s just looks like a disused plot and very attractive to breeding mosquitoes. Lots of photographers and models come to pose at the Blue House. If this could be set up as a nice garden -(yes, with real flowers and plants) for wedding / magazine photos -that would certainly add some sentimental and social value. Lee Tung Avenue’s wedding industry has all but disappeared due to the change in tastes and trends. It would be just fantastic if the Blue House could claw some of that back as part of the storytelling mission.

Taking photos at Lee Tung Avenue would be nice but look no different than photos taken in the Venetian (Macau) or Bicester village. But the Blue House would be unmistakably and definitively Wan Chai.

The mandate of the Blue House should be changed after a study of 2 years and updated. Conservation and preservation should work hand in hand with real education if not for entertainment. I’d like to see St James put in a nice kids area, for reading, for party rental, performances, community gatherings that bring the younger generation in. Kids in urban areas lack good affordable facilities to play in. Those playgrounds nearby are barely good for 10-15 minutes at the most.

Right now, the most famous thing about it is the photo spot next to the supposed chinese docs clinic and a wooden chair right outside the HK House of Stories which invites most people to post that pic on social media to say they’ve been. I just think that after all the effort of Pokemon getting all sorts of people to hang around outside the door of the Blue House catching poke monsters, that there is no other way to really draw them in.

Ps. have you noticed that it’s always the same cars parked in the same place on the street right beside the Blue House? They are pretty much fixtures there. Whoever owns those vehicles is most certainly abusing public space.

The Wan Chai scene in April

There were three articles describing how much income, interest (as in wanting to know, not rate) and inebriation would be happening in Wan Chai over these 2 holiday weekends.

From financial conferences to lighting exhibitions, expensive Art shows (Art Basel, see some pics below) to the biggest Rugby sporting event in Hong Kong, a rush of events has brought a huge number of visitors to Hong Kong and specifically to Wan Chai.

Yes, it’s the location. The HK exhibition center is here, the bars and restaurants, the red light districts all within a wandering over some pedestrian bridges.

The prediction of a boom in clients to the bars, prostitutes, late night love motels must send all on that short stretch of Lockhart to Fenwick into a giddy madness.

I wanted to go check out the scene and take a few photos for you, but I sprained my ankle badly on Friday and am unable to put any weight on it.

If you wake early enough on Sunday I’m sure you’ll get to see the “after party scene”. In the meantime I’ll just have to read about it in the news.

News Articles:

Socially irresponsible drinking’: Sevens means big business for Wan Chai bars

Inside Wan Chai’s love hotels during Hong Kong Sevens week

Rohypnol and rip-offs: the dangers of Wan Chai during Sevens week

Here’s a video describing the articles above.

The darker side of the Hong Kong Sevens Weekend

Here are some of the Art pieces I liked at Art Basel 2018.

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.