Category Archives: Transportation

Bringing your stroller to Wan Chai by MTR? ACCESS DENIED.

This is just bordering on ridiculous. How can The lift serving the concourse to platform be out of order for renovation for 7 months?!!


Ok MTR Corp, in May I’d like to see 3 lift shafts where there was only one before and each lift capable of taking at least 5 strollers instead of the 3 that we can pack in like sardines (if all mobile people take the escalators). 


If any renovation lasts more than 3 days, MTR Corp should be obliged to put up a proper explanation of what is being done to justify the inconvenience, extra staffing and general annoyance this causes the public. 


I’m waiting for my reply.

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The disappointment of a cancelled bus route

The 590A plied a route from Admiralty through Wan Chai to South Horizons every 15-30 minutes. This was the bus we took last year to get to school when the South Island Line was still under construction. Since the MTR line opened and the weather became generally worse (hot, humid and polluted), we’d given up on the erratic schedule of the bus service in favour of the South Island Line

There are pros and cons of course. The 590A always operated a clean nice double decker and took a very efficient route to South Horizons. It is well air conditioned and a very pleasant ride to see what’s happening above street level in Wan Chai. The bus stop is also a few minutes closer to home and as it is a direct route, doesn’t need transiting. It was pretty much the closest thing I could get door to door to South Horizons. 

In contrast, the MTR transit requires a bit of a rushed walk with plenty of anxious commuters through the bowels of Admiralty station, 3 escalators down to get to the South Island Line from the main blue Island line.

I fancied taking the bus today. I had time to spare and thought a bus ride would be nice to see the changes happening above ground. Imagine my disappointment when I got to the Wan Chai road bus stop and found that the route had been terminated!


Hong Kong is totally efficiency driven. If it ain’t making money, cancel it…

I’m now walking back to the MTR station… it’s back to the underground. 


If you take their suggested replacement route, bus 90, it gets you to Ap Lei Chau estate which is close but still a 10-12 minute walk to South Horizons unless you get off at a preceding stop (say just after the bridge) and catch the 592 or 595 that’ll drop you at the South Horizons bus stop near Marina Square. 

Wanchai Lockdown: July 1st celebration what to do and President Xi Jin Ping’s visit

Tip: Get your walking shoes on and walk everywhere.

This weekend is especially crazy in Wanchai due to the Chinese President’s visit. Police are all over Wan Chai, in the MTR stations, patrolling the streets, policing  bad street parking. It’s never been so quiet on the roads on a weekday. No honking of cars, no fire engines and ambulances roaring by every half an hour. 

The MTR station is chock-a-block, full of people every minute of the day. No one wants to use the buses due to diversions and possibly long traffic jams in any given direction. 

If you’re planning on catching the fireworks in Wanchai, it’s best you secure your spot well before 7pm when the lockdown begins. And police have full discretion over when the roads re-open… it could be early tomorrow morning. Here’s my hand drawn map (based on information  from the traffic department) to give you an idea of the chaos that could ensue given that half of Wanchai could be closed tomorrow evening. 

Road closures anticipated around Wan Chai from 7pm onwards on Saturday

The area around the Convention centre and Grand Hyatt and Renaissance hotels is already on lockdown as the President is staying there with his entourage. The hosting and toasting will also happen there so count on the roads being exclusively used for anyone going to the party. 

The Stubbs road closure for heavy goods vehicles and all lay by areas is in anticipation of lots of people heading up to the Peak to watch the fireworks. It will really be mass pandemonium up there since the weather is perfect for fireworks right now. 

Here’s a few events happening in Wanchai. (I took these from the HKSAR 20 website which has the full list.)


This dinner is on tonight at 6pm. But we’re not invited so just stay away!


Then the VIP entertainment at 8pm. It’s on TV so you can watch it at home (if you have a TV).

Some other celebratory stuff going on in Wan Chai over the weekend:


A dragon dance on Sunday at Southorn Playground between 4-9pm.


A football match you can view tomorrow (Saturday) between 9am -2.30pm at Southorn Playground.


Free rides on the Star Ferry between TST and Wan Chai and TST and Central all Sunday when the festivities are over and the VIPs have left. 

A day of accidents before the Black Rain

Yesterday the rain was torrential. The Hong Kong observatory first labelled it a yellow rain, then a red rain when the thunder and lightning rolled in, then the highest signal, black rain. Rivers ran outside my window and the rain was a constant drumming on every exposed surface. 

There wasn’t much wind, it wasn’t a typhoon so it was quite pleasant walking outside especially with Wellington boots on (or rain boots 水鞋 as they are known here) and a big umbrella. No need to dance around the puddles, with waterproof knee high boots on you can walk straight through them. Now my sister visiting from London understands why I buy them. The streets of Wanchai were not too busy and only those with a mission and an umbrella could be seen braving the water currents on every pavement. 

The day before black rain day, it was an overcast, cloudy and cool sort of day. For some reason there seemed to be a tension in the air, perhaps an expectation that something was going to happen. 
Two traffic accidents happened within minutes of each other, causing a massive gridlock along Wan Chai road and Queens Road East.

Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the accidents play out, oblivious to the honking all around them. Both involved taxis whose drivers had rolled down their windows and were swearing at the other vehicles. 



Incident 1:
A car was trying to parallel park in a relatively tight spot along Wan Chai Road and either hit or almost hit a taxi. I have no idea who was at fault but the taxi driver was yelling, cursing and making obscene gestures at the driver of the other car.  


Incident 2: A taxi had stopped by the bus stop to let a passenger alight. A van appears to have driven up and blocked it. The driver of the van can be seen confronting the taxi driver. Perhaps the taxi had cut the van off earlier and got a scrape. 

What is more interesting to you… the incident or the people watching the incident? Everyone loves standing by and watching a good scuffle.

Hong Kong government has a website showing traffic conditions on major roads. You can look at these cameras to plan your journey if the weather is looking unfavourable. 

Free parking with purchase at Lee Tung Avenue

Announcement: For all the drivers congesting the roads of Wan Chai...! Hooray for reduction in roadside PM2.5 and other particulates! At least until the end of 2016 anyway.

Please use your Octopus card as this applies to electronic payment only (presumably so they can track how many).

Free parking for 1 hour with a $200 spend.

Free parking for 2 hours with a $300 spend.

Free parking for 3 hours with a $500 spend.

Essentially a meal or shopping at the supermarket would pretty much cover the spending amount, so it’s worth it if you need to meet someone in Wan Chai and run your errands. Get your driver to park the car instead of idling and going around in circles. 

To get into the parking lot, enter from Queens Road East into Spring Garden Lane. About half way down on your left, you will see the entrance for the car park and drop off area in the basement ( near supermarket). 
I haven’t checked if the car park has electric chargers but given that Tesla is a tenant, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

Directions to the Upper House via Pacific Place

Last night I had to drop off a document to a friend staying at the Upper House above Pacific Place in Admiralty. It’s been at least five years since I was last there and I couldn’t quite recall how to get there. 

Each of the large hotels Conrad, JW Marriott and Shangri-La have their own lift lobbies connected to the top floor of the mall but I don’t remember seeing one specifically for the Upper House

A search on the web yielded… nothing short of useless information. I was quite frustrated that one of the swankiest, fanciest hotels in Hong Kong situated in location touted as convenient would intentionally make accessing it so obscure that it would force to you take a taxi to be sure you arrived. (See these instructions on their website and you’ll get my point.)

even a search on google maps was elusive

Nevertheless, saddled with an urgent mission, toddler and I made our way to Pacific Place. It was after dinner time, cooler weather prevailed and I figured it would be no problem to walk along roads if necessary.

We took a bus getting off at Pacific Place, then proceeded to the information counter ( ground floor) at the far end of the mall towards the cinema for directions. 

The lady at the counter was certainly counting the minutes to the end of her shift, the mall was beginning to shut down for the day. She waved us toward the lifts and said to take them to the fourth floor and that would be the Upper House. Ok, sort of. 


We took the glass mall lifts up to the fourth floor and ended up by a driveway podium area. We had to cross the driveway and a lit up glass walkway (you can look down through the glass into the mall) to get to the Upper House. The signs for the Upper House are not in any way conspicuous, a thin neon sign at roughly eye level with the initials inscripted into a logo is all there is. 


The first sign you’ll see stepping out of the elevator is the sign for the JW Marriott that’s on the left of it.

So there it is for the record. You can access the Upper House via the mall lifts or from the lobby entrance of the JW Marriott. There’s no “direct” mall access but it isn’t too inconvenient. It was only on returning to the elevators that I saw a covered walkway linking the Upper House to the Marriott to the elevators. Good to know.

The convoluted passage to Wan Chai Star Ferry Terminal 

The construction of the East-West bypass is a massive reclamation project that spans  from Central through Wan Chai to Causeway Bay. It’s not just impressive because of the quantity of land being reclaimed but also the simultaneous complexity of constructing an underground tunnel for vehicles and the MTR system. First they had to dredge the harbour, then fill it in with copious quantities of earth, now they are digging it up again to install huge steel and concrete piling to create the underground cavern. 

  
The equipment required for the task is equally impressive. Massive barges with claws that release as much earth as a house for the dredging and filling, huge cranes and excavators, for the piling work. It’s so interesting to watch these large machines in full operation, except that the noise and potential dust and fumes forbid you from lingering too long.

  
All this construction has certainly inconvenienced residents and tourists alike. The constant pounding and hum of diesel engines are certainly annoying but worse is the re-routing of pedestrians wanting to get to the Wan Chai Star Ferry terminal. This terminal has already been moved out from its former location and juts prominently into the harbour. It is already a real trek to get there (in a way similar to Central Star Ferry). Now, with the pedestrian re-route, it’s almost discouraging passengers from using it… Reserving it only for the unsuspecting and already committed (too far from Wan Chai MTR and way too difficult to get to the bus stop/ terminus). 

Look at this.

 

well, at least they put up a map
 
What should be a direct and accessible form of Hong Kong’s public transportation system has become very awkward to get to.  It is completely wheel chair and pram accessible but if you’re the one pushing and not the one sitting then it’s a fair amount of work to get there. Assuming that 1) eventually they’ll create walkways along Tonnochy Road and 2) shift the bus terminus to back where it was diagonally opposite the Hong Kong Convention Center when the work is done, it should be a lot easier to figure out where the ferry terminal is.

  
Apparently the plan is to put a public park and walkway all along the waterfront connecting pedestrians from Kemnedy Town/ Sai Ying Pun all the way to Causeway Bay. A reflection of what’s been done on Kowloon side. 

  
In the meantime, the Wan Chai Star Ferry Terminal and the bus terminal is stranded in a construction site. These aren’t the nicest ways to get to the convention Center. You’re better off walking over from Wan Chai MTR.

I hope the concessions for those food trucks don’t start until the construction is done because business will be tough when it’s dust and heavy machinery in your holiday photographs.